Tavis Smiley invites Killer Mike for two sincere discussions on PBS. Killer Mike does not pull any punches and the topics are legit. Righteous, respectful and thoughtful. I can’t figure out how to embed, but these are both worth watching.
Category Archives: resistance
Most of you know of the case of Emma Sulkowicz who was raped at Columbia university. Sulkowicz committed to carry around the mattress where the crime took place until the university expelled her rapist. Activism, performance art and a compelling articulation of the burdens that survivors of sexualized violence carry.
Sulkowicz graduated and walked across the stage in her gown carrying that mattress. Worth a moment of reflection to look at the administrators who simply gape at her and her colleagues who help carry the mattress. If you want to know which administrators to fire, start with the ones that won’t shake Sulkowicz’s hand as she completes her degree. Please note the crowd volume for Sulkowicz.
Stick around for the short video on the Black Student Union’s die-in at the tree lighting ceremony.
1. Thanks to Feministing for the best framing of the uprising in Baltimore. I appreciate the foregrounding of gender, class, and the juxtaposition of Wholefoods feeding the National Guard and community members organizing (through technology) to feed local kids.
2. The New York Times seems to think that activism documented through the internet focusing on police violence is a new thing. It isn’t, but Jay Caspian Kang’s write up of the radicalization of the leaders of this movement is a useful connection point. Here Kang outlines the articulation of long-standing injustices into first-person experiences of tear-gas saturated outrage in Ferguson.
Mckesson was radicalized that night. “I just couldn’t believe that the police would fire tear gas into what had been a peaceful protest,” he told me. “I was running around, face burning, and nothing I saw looked like America to me.” He also noticed that his account of that night’s tear-gassings, along with a photo he took of the rapper J. Cole, had brought him quite a bit of attention on Twitter. Previously, Mckesson had used the social-media platform to post random news articles that interested him, but now he was realizing its documentary power. He quickly grasped that a protester’s effectiveness came mostly from his ability to be present in as many places as possible: He had to be on West Florissant when the police rolled up in armored vehicles; inside the St. Louis coffee shop MoKaBe’s, a safe haven for the protesters in the city’s Shaw neighborhood, when tear gas started to seep in through the front door; in front of the Ferguson Police Department when shots rang out. He had to keep up a steady stream of tweets and carry around a charger so his phone wouldn’t die.
Excellent visual argument about Palestine. Compelling visuals, crisp juxtaposition and significant argument about the importance of graffiti.
Toshio Meronek has a thoughtful piece about police violence toward mentally ill people. I appreciated the article, but one part stuck out. Meronek writes:
Statistics and history show there’s little accountability for cops who use excessive force, like in central New Jersey, where a 2014 study by the Courier News and the Home News Tribune found that 99 percent of police brutality complaints went uninvestigated. Last year, a police officer in Monterey, California was fired not for using too much force, but for using too little. In February of 2014, Corporal Thanh Nguyen a campus officer at California State University Monterey Bay, refused to tase a mentally ill black student when prompted by officers from the nearby Marina, California police force. After the Marina police filed a complaint with the university citing “failure to act,” Nguyen was fired. (In an interview with The Huffington Post, Jeff Solomon, president of the Statewide University Police Association, the officer’s union, explains that Nguyen refused to participate in the tasing because he believed it was unnecessary. Nguyen is now suing his former employer for wrongful termination.)
There is an interesting groupthink dynamic in the firing of Nguyen. Seems similar to the Border Patrol firing border agents who humanize people who cross the border.
One of the most productive commentators about so-called gamergate is Katherine Cross. Her recent post on Feministing is so on point that it deserves some archival / expansion work.
1. There is an autoblocking program for twitter that removes most of the posts from gamergate trolls. For anyone out there interested in civil space, this is a big improvement. Cross describes it this way:
What offends GamerGaters about the autoblocker, aside from the fact that a woman found a technical solution to a social problem, is that it denies them the ability to impose themselves on targets. The idea that the women, people of colour, and queer folk who’ve comprised the majority of GG’s targets might be able to curate their online spaces and have certain discussions only with those of their choosing is repugnant to many GamerGaters. In the absence of genuine legal recourse, the worst thing you can do to a bully, harasser, or troll is ignore them after all.
2. Underscoring much of the gamergate vitriol is a toxic anti-trans politics. Much of the visibility of the violence seems to have a direction. Again Katherine Cross gathers enough targeted tweets and message board quotes to rile me up. For those who are trans-inclusive, trans-positive, or simply kind human beings, it is worth marking gamergate as a particularly anti-trans moment in time.
3. Katherine Cross introduces me to the idea of “sealioning” — a refined bullying tactic. Cross explains:
“Polite” GGers, defined as those who do not explicitly swear or use slurs, nevertheless harry the people they target because they do not take no for an answer and come in packs. The phenomenon of “sealioning”– barraging a target with politely worded but interrogating questions asked in bad faith– gained a name under GamerGate because of how common the tactic was.
Also provided is this nice comic!
There are a lot of smart insights in this Bluestockings interview with Mimi Thi Nguyen. Feministing shared the link and gave me the heads up that there was some discussion of guilt and professional expectations in the essay. Nguyen seems persuasive to this punk professor when she writes:
The disjuncture then comes when I consider how we are encouraged to carry ourselves in the academy. I feel a lot of pressure to professionalize, and the prescriptions for professionalization often run counter to my way of being in the world. I also struggle with the directive that I am supposed to professionalize my students. I don’t hold with the idea that I should train students to be better workers, because the content of “better” — more obedient, more efficient, whatever — runs counter to what I want to teach. In my feminist theories courses, I say, “Yeah, I just gave you assignments with deadlines! But I also want to say to you, what’s so great about work? Why do we believe work is supposed to be edifying? Should we always have to be productive? Why do we imagine work as something that gives us dignity? What if it’s just wearing us down?” My history in punk totally informs these attempts to practice other ways of being in a classroom, and other ways of being a professor.
Like Nguyen I was a reader of Maximum Rock and Roll since my teens. I was deeply informed by the DIY spirit and raw love of music and counterculture that ran through MRR. Along with that inspiring freedom were some toxic interview discussions and columns that also were a big part of MRR. I remember a particularly racist / sexist sex column, perhaps from Mykel Board? Nguyen as a young punk writes MRR and challenges the columnist for MRR and gets a hateful column in reply. The scrap with MRR inspires her to create her own zine Race Riot.
The impetus for Race Riot came when a columnist at Maximum Rockandroll wrote about his Asian fetish, suggesting that Asian women’s eyelids look like vulva, and that their vulva might be also horizontal. It is an old imperial joke — there are all kinds of imperial jokes about how racial, colonial women’s bodies are so inhuman that their genitalia might reflect this alien state. I wrote a letter to Maximum, cussing and citing postcolonial feminist theory. He then wrote a lengthy column in response about how though I’m Asian, because I’m an ugly feminist, he wouldn’t want to fuck me anyway. There was a discussion at the magazine about whether or not to publish this column because the magazine had a policy — no racism, no sexism, no homophobia. But the coordinator and founder of the magazine decided that this column qualified as satire, and so it was acceptable.
It was really infuriating for me to be 19 years old, totally invested in punk and politics, to be attacked under the guise of racist cool in the punk magazine. I was like, “Fuck it, I’m quitting punk.” But I figured I should do something, to leave something behind as a practice and as a document, to reach other punks of color who might feel as isolated as I did in the aftermath.
I know a lot of punks who saw the academy as a reasonable place to continue thinking about punk praxis. Or more particularly, many of us go to an academic job and are reasonably punk in that and other parts of our lives. Many of the punks I knew are still working with intentional collectives, creating media, hosting shows, playing music, creating alternative spaces and doing-it-themselves. I’ll give a shout out to my friend Zack Furness and his book Punkademics. I think you can read the whole book at Minor Compositions.
I’ll note my appreciation and agreement with Nguyen’s analysis of internet communications and the need for pauses for reflection. She argues:
New technologies have produced expectations that we now have more democratic access to more knowledge, and that we must accommodate ourselves to an accelerated sense of time. But I am wary of this internalization of capital’s rhythms for continuous consumption and open-ended production. I hate feeling obliged to produce a post or tweet on a timetable. It makes me anxious. There is value in being about to respond quickly to an object or event, of course, but I also want to hold out for other forms of temporal consciousness, including untimeliness and contemplation of deep structures, sitting with an object over time to consider how it changes you, how the encounter with it changes the nature of your inquiry.
Good interview and strong arguments.