On holy ground

October 6, 2013 - Leave a Response

20131005_labyrinth

Today I was feeling stiff from laying down too much, and kinda stuck, not knowing what to do with myself. So I got in my car and started driving. I eventually ended up at the labyrinth pictured above. I started walking it, and realized that my boots felt wrong.

“Take your sandals off your feet,” the voice rang in my head, “for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” So I did.

With bare feet I continued the walk. I felt the bricks beneath me, the cracks in them, the grass and moss growing between them. I felt how one side of the labyrinth was dry and warm, while another part was dry and cool and yet another was dry and damp.

A few times I found myself looking too far ahead, trying to see where I was going. That never works in a labyrinth. Not only will my eyes get lost, but when I stop keeping my current step at the center, then my feet get lost and my mind gets lost. Each time I tried to plan ahead I felt this. My eyes would lose focus, trying to make out the winding path. My mind would start trying to plan and I’d have to stop because I’d lost track of where my foot needed to go in its next step. So each time I brought myself back to my most immediate surroundings. I stepped the next step and no more. I felt the textures below my feet. I trusted my feet to bring me somewhere. It didn’t matter where. There are no finish lines. There’s only the next step.

Somehow I get the feeling I was learning a life lesson. Or at least being taught one. It’s up to me whether I learn it or not.

“Green fields grow dead, white trees” Memorial Day 2013

May 27, 2013 - Leave a Response

cemetery

Green fields grow dead, white trees,
gleaming in the sun, pretending at life.
Fed on blood and manure,
the trees stand still.
Whitewashed tombs.

The beast devours children,
shits them out,
and we feed it more, and more, and more.

It keeps our fields green,
our memories cleaned.

Other fields,
other blood,
other excrement that once breathed,
moved,
loved,
lived…
they’re hidden from our eyes.
Rubble,
rock and dirt and sand.

Death hides behind platitudes,
valor, honor, heroism,
and we stare at the dead white trees,
the green fields,
the mimicry of life.

We feed the beast the hearts of our children,
build meaning from its shit,
and tell ourselves our hands are clean.

Why I can’t say I don’t contribute to another’s oppression

May 20, 2013 - Leave a Response

The other day on twitter I said:

A friend responded to that last tweet, asking if I could expand on that, perhaps in a blog post, so here I am trying to do that. Those few short sentences, though, reflect something that’s so fundamental to my understanding of, well, understanding itself that it may be tough.

Why can’t a white person (like, for example, me) say, “I’m not racist”?

Well, mainly because, as white people, we’re not on the receiving end of racism. We don’t experience its reality day in and day out. I’m not talking about individual prejudice here, either. Racism is much bigger than some yokel saying “I don’t like black people.” It’s an entire system that others, disparages, discards and devalues anyone who is not white. When you’re white, you don’t experience it in full. You may see instances of it. You may recognize its effects, but it’s not a force pointed at you, so you don’t really know it.

Moreover, it’s so interwoven in your entire society, in your upbringing, your history, your schooling, your media, your stories, that it’s right there in your head.

Racism isn’t about individual attitudes and actions. They’re just one part of it. Sure, we can all point at the KKK, at the horrible things that one coworker said, at obvious manifestations of prejudice, but if we limit our definition of racism to those sorts of things, then we’re refusing to see how deep racism really goes. Yeah, I’ll be repenting the rest of my life for helping my dad campaign for David Duke when I was a teenager, but that’s not what I was thinking about when I wrote My name is Gabe and… I’m racist.

See, our whole culture is shot through with racism. It was in the air I breathed as a child. It was in the stories I read, the shows I watched, the behaviors of those all around me, and now it’s in me. It’s one of my own little demons, one of my own original sins, inside me for as long as I’ve had consciousness.

I’m part of the system that creates and perpetuates white privilege and white supremacy, simply by virtue of being a white person in this world, and especially being a white person in the US. I don’t get to decide when I am not racist because I’m not the one that racism is pointed toward. If someone said “What you said/did was racist,” I don’t get to respond, “No it’s not, because I’m not prejudiced.” It’s not about me. It’s not about my intent. It’s about something I did that plays into, reinforces and upholds the racist forces that shape our society (societies?). I can’t even speak from a place of authority on this, because I’m white. Hell, by being a white person telling other white people about racism, I’m probably playing into that systemic racism, elevating my voice above the voices of people of color.

It’s similar to, but not the same as, when straight people say “I’m not homophobic.” Homophobia isn’t about some individual hating or fearing gay people. It’s about a systemic devaluing of non-straight people and sexualities. Just because a straight person doesn’t have any problems with gay people, just because they’re a professed ally, doesn’t mean that they don’t play into the systemic nature of homophobia.

When you’re not part of an oppressed class, you’re not an expert on their oppression. It’s like what Grace said about intersectionality:

To say, as a white person, “I’m not racist,” or as a straight person, “I’m not homophobic,” or as a cis person, “I’m not transphobic,” what you’re doing is privileging your own understanding of other people’s experience over their understanding of their own experience. You’re taking yourself out of the societal forces that shape you and everything around you, defining yourself in some mythical neutral space. Doing so is a refusal to recognize the agency of people to know and understand their own experience. It’s to put your voice above theirs.

So maybe we white folks oughta say, “I’m probably racist, but I’m trying to work against that.” Straight folks oughta say, “Homophobia is endemic to the culture in which I grew up, but I’m trying to lessen its presence around me.” Cis folks oughta say, “I was shaped by a world hostile to trans* people, but I’m trying to work against that hostility in my own life.”

But more than all of that, more than making it about us by saying “I’m not [insert form of societal prejudice here],” we oughta just be quiet and listen to the people who are experts on all of this, because it’s really not about the members of the privileged class. Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, all oppressions, they’re not about any individual’s intent. They’re about the impact those things have on the lives of those against whom they’re directed.

“you must listen with your imagination”

April 2, 2013 - Leave a Response

New noise! I felt like I was getting so serious, both in theme and in sound, then I ended up making some noise that has a much more fun feel. It still springs from the mysticism that has driven the last few things I’ve done under the name luxeed, but takes a very different form. This is seeing existence all at once, not seeing undifferentiated no-thing-ness.

This is noise, but the opposite of harsh noise

Riyv Ba’Ir “For The Fight”

March 26, 2013 - Leave a Response

I was angry. I was rageful. I wanted to scream and yell and destroy. I took than anger and channeled it into this.