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That's been going on right outside your window
Boozhoo! Aaniin! Welcome to another edition of An Irritable Métis. I’ve either been off grid or on the road for the bulk of the past week, so apologies for the lateness of my delivery of fresh irritations – there have been plenty! Meanwhile, if you forgot what all this is even about, or you’re new here, whatever, you may refresh your memory here. If you want to help keep a writer out of hard labor, well….
Or perhaps consider….
One week ago, as I write here on Sunday morning, I was a mere hour or two away from pushing rafts out into the swollen current of the Blackfoot River with a baker’s dozen or so of other intrepid souls. It was wet and chilly, with driving rain and near hypothermic conditions in our immediate future that would last about 36 hours. Even so, the next few days were glorious, particularly the arrival of Mishoom Giizis — our Anishinaabe grandfather, the Sun — with vigor on the day of the Summer Solstice. These are the things I want to write about … but I just can’t. Not yet anyway. Because we have to talk about what is continuing to happen in the United States.
I want to make something abundantly clear: I am in 100% solidarity with women. The current spate of actions by the SCOTUS are despicable, fascist, and evil. The cruelty and misogyny as expressed through these actions are the manifest intentions of millions and millions of people, largely men. Men we queue up beside at the grocery store, men we work with, and for some of us, the men we are entangled in intimate relationships with. It’s not just straight men either. I blocked a couple local gay dudes a few weeks ago who wouldn’t recognize that mocking a horrific Republican legislator over her alleged abortions was still violence against women and grossly ignorant. They just got indignant when called on their bullshit, as if I – along with a couple women also calling them out – was the ignorant one. There’s never a justification for this kind of behavior. As a fat guy, those folks who mocked Trump for his obesity showed me how they really feel about fat people. It’s no different when a man mocks any woman for her abortions. It is violence against women, period. You can’t go for social media chuckles by insinuating, “Oh, that woman is so slutty and stupid, of course she’s had two abortions!” and then deny the misogyny of your words.
Along with these attitudes, this institution, the SCOTUS, must be taken on with every means necessary, over and over and over again. I am angry and stymied and at a loss of what to do next.
“So if you’re furious or grieving, ask yourself: what am I willing to do to change it? What am I willing to do to protect the autonomy and safety of our generation, and the next, and the next?
Individualized action is not enough. It's time to organize.” — Anne Helen Petersen
AHP has a great newsletter on this subject you can check out HERE. In the comments are a bunch of great links you can follow to lend your support to organizations fighting against this abortion nightmare. I urge you to check them out if you feel powerless yourself and want to do something.
Here’s the thing, though: I’m carrying a lot of frustration toward these people I’m supposed to be organizing with. These people who only show up when something actually hits them where they live. When their privilege is threatened. The people who turned year-old social justice books into overnight NYT bestsellers after George Floyd and then proceeded to either not read them or ignore them. I mean, there are a lot of NPR-listening white liberals who are waking up and saying, “WTF?! How dare they!” to institutions that everyone else in the country — working class people, poor people, Black people, Brown people, Indigenous people, Queer people — already know aren’t in the business of justice and never have been. This current SCOTUS hellscape over abortion isn’t a new thing, it’s just the next thing. There are a lot of shocked people now who didn’t pay attention because this stuff – body autonomy politics, houselessness, police violence – wasn’t part of their world. Now they face an inability to get abortions. Now houseless people are building camps in their neighborhoods because there’s nowhere else to go. And now it’s entirely possible a couple white grandmas are gonna get hit in the face by cops with clubs. These things are all related.
“It’s strange to me that so many people are more angry at the Democrats than the Republicans who fought for and masterminded the overthrow of basic bodily autonomy for half the US population.” – A comment swiped from the internet
We already know how terrible the Republicans are. We’ve been angry. We haven’t stopped being angry. We are just tired of the fact that every time something shitty happens, we are urged to vote, vote, vote. I’ve gotten a steady stream of emails from “Nancy Pelosi” begging me to donate to the Democratic cause, but none of these emails say what anyone is going to actually do. Which is typical of the Dems. Biden refuses to cancel student debt like he promised. He won’t expand the court. He’s against ending the filibuster. So fuck him. And fuck Pelosi, who has somehow managed to get filthy rich during her time in Congress, yet what has she done to protect this very issue she is now demanding more money to protect?
I’m not so ignorant or reactionary to suggest voting is useless, or decide that if I can’t get my perfect candidates I’m just not going to vote. To suggest so is foolish. I realize that the Dems are the only game currently in town to come close to preventing us from turning into a complete fascist state and I’m stuck voting for them. But if this move to organize doesn’t also focus specifically on getting candidates willing to make strong efforts over and over again to pass meaningful legislation that helps more than just people who are already wealthy, then what the hell are we even doing?
It is overwhelmingly white women (and the few white men who don’t have their heads utterly up their own asses on all this) who get INDIGNANT! at the suggestion that “Vote Blue No Matter Who!” isn’t as simple as it sounds because ABORTION! And yeah, this latest kick to the belly from SCOTUS is a bad one in so many ways and for so many people most of us don’t even fully comprehend. Never mind that poor women and Black and Brown and Indigenous women have never had the body autonomy that you’ve been kinda taking for granted for a few decades. I’m down for the fight on this. But where are you, white ladies, on issues that affect everyone else? How about cops, and Joe Biden’s suggestion to use unspent Covid money not on health facilities, or staff, or feeding and housing people, but on MORE FUCKING COPS? These are not unrelated issues, and it’s just one example. And if we think that, with a blank check to “Vote Blue No Matter Who!” Democratic leadership isn't going to do everything they can to seize more power for their own efforts, efforts that rarely help anyone but their rich friends, you aren't paying attention. It really boils down to white supremacy, just like everything else in this country always has, and if you can’t see it for what it is you have some deep soul searching to engage in. Remember that — when you get pissed at those of us who question the commitment to good candidates the Dems are trotting out — more than half of you who vote at all voted for the asshats who packed SCOTUS with nutjobs. You’re the last ones to be lecturing anyone.
It’s going to be a long, hot summer and I’m already tired. I’m already dreading fires. I’m dreading water restrictions because the rivers are low and the days are hot. I’m dreading the steady unfurling of what climate change is going to look like not just here, but for everyone everywhere. The people who have always had least and been treated the worst will be the first to suffer and I’m sick of it. I try to be compassionate and generally am, but I’m sick of privileged white middle class ignorance. There is so much suffering, and so much willful lack of attention to it.
I read at an event the other night that, despite the hosts’ presumed best intentions and my gratitude for being asked to participate, made me almost incoherent with outrage. It began with a land acknowledgement that was textbook in its lack of understanding of the purpose it should serve, read haltingly from a piece of paper that seemed like it had been downloaded from the internet ten minutes earlier, that carried the sincerity of a “thoughts and prayers” delivered from an NRA pulpit.
This was followed immediately by a number of stupid outsider jokes directed at people moving in and buying property (the irony re: the relationship to the land acknowledgement was apparently lost on everyone), the kicker of which was a song performed by a guy who was there playing a number of songs throughout the evening. He was an older guy, 60s maybe, and a decent enough guitar player. But he liked to make jokes in his music, and at one point he made a joke about having “girls” over to his house, then hearing the banging on his front door at midnight, and the kicker being he finally “let them out” at 4 AM. The crowd laughed. I couldn’t believe it. Are jokes about kidnapping girls, which this sounded like to me, funny? I mean, sitting next to me was a young woman maybe 17 or 18 who was about to read an essay about surviving emotional trauma. What kind of message does a song like that, and its reaction, send? It was obscene and from that point forward my head was just full of white noise. I regretted not interrupting the song and calling the idiot out. I was utterly dismayed by my own failure.
By the time I took to the lectern I was in such an overheated state of rage I could barely manage. My words stumbled out of my mouth. I wanted to snarl and spit and accuse and frankly I wish I had but instead I attempted to talk about love. I tried to talk about all of us being relatives, and that while we try to love each other sometimes it means pointing out some hard truths. I tried to point some of those out the other night and probably failed. I've tried to do that here and also probably failed. But some things have to be said even if I do a shitty job in trying.
I want to close with this quote I pulled from my friend Andō's newsletter:
“I pin my hopes to quiet processes and small circles, in which vital and transforming events take place.” — Rufus Jones (Quaker Theologian)
Do I have hopes to pin to anything? I think I do. If I didn't I wouldn't admit it anyway. I do hope all of you are well. I hope you have time and enough love around you to stay well. We are going to need each other in these coming years.
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