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Honoring Direct Action, Reframing Compassion

Direct Action Gets the Goods

And Compassion Leads the Way

Marissa Janae Johnson (L) and Mara Jacqeline Willaford (R) interrupt a Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle, WA to draw attention to Black liberation. Hear Johnson in her own words as a “religious extremist for Black love.”

When you saw images of these Black protesters interrupting Bernie Sanders in Seattle (or maybe you were there in person), did you cheer? Did you cringe? Did you shrink? Did you shout?

You won’t be judged for your response. Just notice. There’s a wide range of possible reactions.

 

The majority response from the Seattle crowd was anger. Frustration. This is not what they came to see. This is not what they signed up for.

 

But for many Black women like me, upon hearing the news, there arose a certain joy and reverence. Yes. Although the action involved shouting and disruption, I saw it as a form of compassionate action. Young Black women valuing themselvesourselves — enough to command center stage at the rally of a Democratic Presidential candidate who has remained, until now, conspicuously mum on the topic of Black liberation and white supremacy. (And for those keeping score, BlackLivesMatter is expanding their focus to the rallies of other Democratic and Republican candidates, too.)

Mere hours after young Black organizers interrupted his rally in Seattle, Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders released a brand-new platform addressing racism in the U.S.

 

There’s an old phrase from the Industrial Workers of the World:

 

“Direct action gets the goods.”

 

Young Black people (especially women and queers) are living all the life into this phrase right now, and if you ask me, it is an excellent thing.

 

There’s also an old, misguided phrase from the U.S. labor movement:

 

“Black and White Unite and Fight.”

 

This one was historically used to gloss over racist white union behavior, exhorting Black workers to set aside their “special demands” or complaints in service of the “unified” class struggle.

 

I hear resonances, at times, in white progressive circles.

 

“The style is too aggressive. It’s disrespectful. Very violent.”

“Bernie is working for the same goals as they are. Couldn’t they just reach out to him?”

 

We’ve already covered some of the perils of compassion-baiting, so without rehashing too much, I just want to inquire about the kind of “goods” and awakening that can come when we — especially in our dimensions of privilege — allow ourselves to be pushed.

What happens when we let go of fixed views long enough to feel groundless?

 

“Fear is a natural reaction
to moving closer to the truth.”

—Pema Chödrön

 

If we are feeling fear or discomfort, that’s okay. It is possible to investigate and honor that discomfort while still centering the importance of Black people fighting for freedom on our own terms.

Let us remember: the truth of Black liberation (multiple truths, really) can only be defined by Black people.

Period.

On this, it’s hard to find better wisdom than the classic statement from the self-identifying Black Lesbian socialist group, the Combahee River Collective.

 

Above all else, Our politics initially sprang from the shared belief that Black women are inherently valuable, that our liberation is a necessity not as an adjunct to somebody else’s but because of our need as human persons for autonomy. This may seem so obvious as to sound simplistic, but it is apparent that no other ostensibly progressive movement has ever considered our specific oppression as a priority or worked seriously for the ending of that oppression. …We realize that the only people who care enough about us to work consistently for our liberation are us. Our politics evolve from a healthy love for ourselves, our sisters and our community which allows us to continue our struggle and work.

We realize that the liberation of all oppressed peoples necessitates the destruction of the political-economic systems of capitalism and imperialism as well as patriarchy. We are socialists because we believe that work must be organized for the collective benefit of those who do the work and create the products, and not for the profit of the bosses. Material resources must be equally distributed among those who create these resources. We are not convinced, however, that a socialist revolution that is not also a feminist and anti-racist revolution will guarantee our liberation. We have arrived at the necessity for developing an understanding of class relationships that takes into account the specific class position of Black women who are generally marginal in the labor force, while at this particular time some of us are temporarily viewed as doubly desirable tokens at white-collar and professional levels. We need to articulate the real class situation of persons who are not merely raceless, sexless workers, but for whom racial and sexual oppression are significant determinants in their working/economic lives. Although we are in essential agreement with Marx’s theory as it applied to the very specific economic relationships he analyzed, we know that his analysis must be extended further in order for us to understand our specific economic situation as Black women.

As Black feminists and Lesbians we know that we have a very definite revolutionary task to perform and we are ready for the lifetime of work and struggle before us.”

—Combahee River Collective, April 1977

As engaged Buddhists, are we ready for the ferocious compassion of nonviolent direct action within racial justice movements? Are we openhearted enough to hold the searing truths that such actions might reveal?

I hope so. I think so. Let’s find out, together.

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Comments (86)

  • ann dash

    It was disgusting. I lost all respect for the BLM and am on the side of ALM – ALL lies matter.

  • ann dash

    Make that all LIVES matter.

  • Katie Loncke

    Thank you for your opinion, ann.

    If you feel more disgusted by a nonviolent rally takeover than by the epidemic of state violence toward Black people, well… I don’t really know what to say. I’m thinking of some words by Dr. King.

    “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.””

  • Rodney Sanchez

    Heckling has a long tradition in political movements. Hope the link makes it through. And, I wasn’t bothered by the BLM actions.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/08/13/in-defense-of-heckling-some-history-past-and-present/

  • John F. Eden

    Thank you for this clear analysis and personal insight into the incident. I had only read the edges of it, but your perspective is very helpful to me. I’m amazed that Sanders had not addressed racism before! I heard that this disruption was not an official Black Live Matter action, but it clearly was effective, whoever organized it. You are so right, sometimes it just takes getting in people’s faces in unpleasant ways to “get the goods”! Love the manifesto!
    Rock on!

  • Dr. Amie Breeze Harper

    I don’t understand how 2 black women’s approach to activism becomes representative of the entire Black Lives Matter movement? I keep on hearing people say this and it’s quite disappointing that one would lose respect for the entire BLM movement because of how 2 people have chosen to do this. If people think, “I didn’t come to listen to this” and are annoyed by this, I am honestly feeling that this speak volumes about privilege. Perhaps it wasn’t the BEST method but the point is to understand context and how their actions represent a microcosm of a big, violent, systemic problem that has been on going for 500 years in this country. BLM is a continuum of liberation from anti-blackness and dismantling white supremacist violence at the systemic level. I just wonder if people have this same negative reaction about the same type of events that happened 70 years ago when Civil Rights activists were not being ‘civilized’ and ‘disrupted’ spaces of normative whiteness in the USA. I think that people who are irritated with what these two women did would find themselves supporting what folk did 70 years ago and understand the context (i.e., yes, disrupt and get the issues in the mainstream’s face about the KKK lynching black people, the police beating the crap our of Fannie Lou Hamer , etc).

    Disrupting systems of privilege in a public space is suppose to make MOST people who don’t need to think about it ‘irritated’, ‘uncomfortable’, etc. That is what transformation is all about. It’s not supposed to be EASY and COMFORTABLE.

    What these women did made be cry. As a Black mother with 3 children, I understand needing to do this. And once again, they are attacking systemic racism and anti-Black violence– not necessarily attacking the ‘individual’ Bernie Sanders. They are using a public platform; and in all honesty, when people have limited amount of resources to beg society mainstream to stop killing us, I understand this tactic. Most of us do not have the money and resources and political power the candidates have to ask us to stop being killed, so I totally get it and am compassionate, not judgmental. Activism isn’t perfect, but at least they got up there and DID SOMETHING.

    My two cents.

  • ann dash

    Katie Loncke – It is wrong for you to infer that because I am against rude behavior against a Democratic candidate for president that I am FOR mistreatment of blacks (or anyone else). I am against the WAY it was done and to WHOM it was done. Bernie Sanders has been around a long time and he is not to blame for the police brutality against blacks (or anyone else).

    Please – some common sense. Just try to recall what liberals said about the Tea Partiers who disrupted the campaign speeches of candidates. This is no different. It is rude and has turned me off to these particular representatives of the BLM. I am all for LIVES that matter. ALL LIFE MATTERS. They should have chosen a better slogan because it leaves out a whole lot of people.

  • Dr. Amie Breeze Harper

    ann,

    I was wondering, after reading the goal of BLM, do you still agree that the slogan all live matter should replace it? BLM speaks to the specificity of anti-Black violence. http://blacklivesmatter.com/about/

    Why do so many people think that BLM means that only Black lives matter and that no one else does?

    ann, it is highly problematic to tell the founders of BLM that they SHOULD HAVE chosen a different slogan. BLM was never about leaving anyone out; they ask very EVERYONE to understand the specific history of systemic racism toward Black people and for Black and non-black identified people to join in ending this systemic violence. And it joining in this specific racialized struggle, it leaves NO ONE OUT.

  • ann dash

    Black Lives Matter, Too.. I’d go for that one. ALL lives matter. period. Police brutality should end – period.

  • Anais

    Emotionally, I’ll admit, I was a cringer as you categorized it, Katie. Not because of the disruptive nature of the action – you and I were both being disruptive in another venue, just the week before! But because my first thought was, “politically this is not a smart move, because it will alienate a lot of people who feel Sanders is the candidate with the strongest track record on civil rights; this seems misdirected.” It’s true, Sanders wasn’t talking about racism in his campaign, but I prefer his voting record to talk without action any day. So I own up to feeling an uncomfortable blend of empathy and frustration (and then, to get meta, frustration with my own frustration – why can’t I be a “good” white supporter, why am I failing to entirely embrace this?). I’ve felt similar feelings at a number of Black Lives Matter actions where the insistence on being heard ends up in practice meaning that other important issues don’t get time. And yet I agree: that insistence is needed, and everyone needs to acknowledge that these are the people who routinely are silenced or made invisible, so some out- and-out reversal of privilege is needed to address that. Heckling as was pointed out is a part of the political process, and heckling because you care passionately seems to be an especially important opportunity to protect. And on further reflection, I think my political analysis was off-track: perhaps it was precisely the fact that this candidate would be open to changing how he talked about racism made this action astute, because it resulted rapidly in a great (I think) change in the campaign platform. It delivered the goods, as you say: I was at the next Sanders event two days later, and the messaging was entirely different. Is that enough, I don’t know. There’s a lot of ground to cover yet, in the election and in our national conversation about the deep intersection of racism and inequality.

  • Anais

    I left out something really important, and much simpler for me, emotionally: the crowd’s reaction was a huge disappointment. That people booed and did not respond with more love and understanding but became so belligerent was very eye-opening.

  • Matt Watersong

    Thank you for writing this.

    Black Lives Matter’s “disruption,” like other actions by non-violent movements, feels to me like the way we disrupt the compulsive patterns, cravings, and delusions in our thoughts when we sit.

    We crave a linear, likable, simple solution (Bernie Sanders). We crave a story of democracy still being a thing. There are communities that know that these are delusions and have been for a long time – that this shit is much more complex, and that that complexity is not going to be invited to speak before a crowd. It’s an uncomfortable realization, and it is extremely important for the future of all beings.

    I am grateful to Black Lives Matter for everything non-violent you do in hopes that the rest of us wake up.

  • Katie Loncke

    Dr. Harper, so much metta and thank you for your insights and analysis. To me Johnson’s explanation of their action was so telling: they were not doing it for “the white gaze.” They were doing it because it is important to fellow Black women, those of us who are moved to tears seeing our sisters and siblings boldly demanding space and visibility. Demanding to be heard. It is always hard to bargain with institutional power, especially institutional power that so easily co-opts progressive social movements, whether maliciously or not. Like you, I continue to be impressed with the ways in which young Black people are re-appropriating the media resources of these multi-million-dollar rallies and spectacles to focus attention on the movement(s) for Black lives.

    Anais, thank you also for sharing so thoughtfully.

    Another outcome of these disruptions that I’d forgotten to mention is that the Netroots action inspired Democracy for America to actually shift its criteria for candidate endorsement. As TIME reported:

    “After a racial justice protest halted a meeting with Democratic presidential candidates on Saturday, the one-million-member network will now include candidates’ proposals for addressing racism among the central criteria for DFA’s endorsements…

    The criteria apply to candidates from local elections to the presidential level.

    Additionally, in its questions of candidates in local races, DFA will ask how candidates will support the Movement for Black Lives and confront racism and our “culture of white supremacy,” according to the DFA announcement.”

    http://time.com/3971905/black-lives-matter-democracy-for-america/

    So for those who are assessing the strategy of these explosive yet nonviolent actions, it’s an interesting and pretty powerful development to consider.

  • Dawn Haney

    Thanks Katie for this important piece!

    I know that I’ve learned a lot about strategy from Black Lives Matter and Black liberation movements, and while it’s often uncomfortable, it’s often our closer allies who can and should be pressured to expand their vision for liberation. I read this opinion piece by Van Jones this morning, and appreciated this line:

    “Therefore nobody should have had to push Sanders to tackle criminal justice issues. To the contrary, especially given the turmoil of the past year, the devastating impact of the incarceration industry should have been a key part of his very first speech as a presidential candidate.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/12/opinions/van-jones-bernie-sanders-disrupted/

    It’s kind of hard to believe that it’s taken this much to get Bernie to listen and include racial justice in his political platform. But it’s this very slowness which tells me that this level of intervention is what was necessary for him to finally get on board.

    Now if we can only get his supporters to make the turn as well.

  • Dr. Amie Breeze Harper

    Katie,

    Thanks for writing this article which became inspiration for me to write these thoughts “On Waiting for the ‘Okay’ to ‘Properly’ Disrupt the System of Racism and Anti-Black Violence That is Killing Us.”

    http://sistahvegan.com/2015/08/13/on-waiting-for-the-okay-to-properly-disrupt-the-system-of-racism-and-anti-black-violence-that-is-killing-us/

  • Lisa

    Thank you for this, Katie. I especially appreciate how our shared practice allows us to hold and learn from discomfort. That my discomfort more often than not holds the lesson of where I need to practice.

    To all lives matter. That is true. But all lives do not matter equally. The inequity behind this can only be changed if it is seen and articulated. I teach public health. For practically every outcome, black and brown people fare worse. To put it bluntly, we die. We die much, much younger and that is true whether or not we are poor, even though we are more likely poor because of structural inequities baked into our system. So yes, I can show anyone a ton of data, generated by dispassionate scientists proving that black lives do not matter as much as white lives. It may be uncomfortable to hear that. It is even more uncomfortable to live it and it won’t change until we face it.

    Do I love the tactic of “rudeness”? No I do not. Do I think that strategically it made sense to go after the progressive candidate who was more likely to listen and to change the discourse in the presidential race? Yes I do.

  • cesar

    Dear Katie,

    As always, thank you for your thought-provoking posts. It’s very liberating to understand change and the impermanence, of our ideas and assumptions. I must admit I was one of the folks disappointed with the disruption of Bernie’s rally last week. I didn’t feel it was productive. I believe it was due to the fact that I admire Senator Sanders’s and I felt they were picking on the wrong guy. And some of the crowds negative reactions made me feel that this would hurt the BLM movement. But after some reflection and reading your post and some of the wonderful commentators there was an authentic change of heart, mind.

    They weren’t picking on Bernie. If anything, they did Bernie a favor. This is a large movement. And growing. They have given Senator Sander’s the opportunity to bring this issue to the forefront. I imagined how difficult it would be to attempt this at a Republican/Conservative/Tea party rally. Security issues, not to mention perhaps most of the folks attending these type of events have their ideas and assumptions deeply ingrained. It’s a shame but this is how our society is functioning, right now.

    This was the most conducive environment to attempt this. Bernie should hear from the people, in return be supported by the people, and put into office, by the people. I understand ann’s issues with BLM and her thoughts that it should be “All Lives Matter.” But one must understand that this movement is not excluding. It came about because of being excluded.

  • Jonathan Gustin

    Katie – I read everything you write when I see it on Facebook, and find your writing intelligent, and a good gentle stretch in helping me open my eyes wider on the issues you touch. This article was no different…excellent job.

    I did winch a bit though at your response to the woman who said “She found the BLM response disgusting.” I’m guessing you (as I) were feeling her word disgusting was overly provocative. Still, you response of ” If you feel more disgusted by a nonviolent rally takeover than by the epidemic of state violence toward Black people, well… I don’t really know what to say.” went a bit too far I think.

    My two cents…assuming (or guessing) that the woman actually finds a non-violent protest more disgusting than epidemic violence towards Black people is a mistake. That’s the sum of my criticism…so…

    Back on a high note: thank you once again for all that you do, and especially for the way your words have been expanding my vision these many years.

  • ann dash

    John F Eden – Not quite the same thing. Regarding the issue of police brutality, BOTH houses would be on fire (assuming you mean one represents whites and one represents blacks?), but the fire in the house that has been burning the longest is not the one that is being put out.

    BOTH houses need rescuing. I’m sorry, but I do admire the BLM’s aim to bring this problem out in the open, but it is the METHOD in which they did it at Bernie Sanders’ (of all people) speech that upset me. Again, I am and always will be for the idea that ALL lives matter equally – no one (white or black) matters more.

  • Max AIrborne

    Ann Dash, you say you admire the movement but not the methods. I am curious to know what methods you can imagine that would A) be acceptable to you and B) succeed in actually pushing liberal white america to wake up to the reality of racism?

    Comfort is what maintains the status quo, it’s what keeps us entrenched in our karmic habits. So without discomfort, how will anything change?

    In this state of emergency where black folks are killed with impunity by law enforcement and there is no sign of it stopping, I feel that methods like these interruptions of politicians’ speeches are absolutely skillful means.

    Thanks for this beautiful article and starting this vital conversation here, Katie.

  • Geoffrey Wood

    Wow. Bernie had not been mum on issues of race. It would suggest that he, like MLK Jr. did, sees that race is but one facet of larger issues. And that supporting fights among the nation’s most disempowered only serves the system’s masters. And oh, he had a new civil rights platform mere hours after the protest? Think maybe he was already working on it? I agree with his decision to leave the stage. For one article listing his long dedication to all lives, see http://www.salon.com/2015/07/22/20_examples_of_bernie_sanders_powerful_record_on_civil_and_human_rights_partner/

    These women were not part of any official BLM group though they attempted to make it appear that way. Even started their own FB page in opposition or addition to the one that already existed in Seattle. Why do that? Seems a bit about personal glorification to me, but anyway. Never mind the love for Sarah Palin and religious nuttery that might give me a run for my money. I understand a more official BLM entity issued a generic “we support that kind of thing” statement, I think without referring to the Seattle situation in particular.

    The comment that people who were disgusted by these women’s actions must be less disgusted by systemic racism is the same kind of absolutist bipolar thinking that feeds the right wing, the tea partiers. Part of the problem. Quite a few Americans of African heritage were booing too, and criticized the women’s actions later.

    Black lives do matter. Not just the 1 or 2 killed by police every day, but the 20-30 killed by other blacks. Not just those in the school to prison pipeline, but their peers who encourage such behaviors. If you’re only focusing on one aspect, you’re not actually saying black lives matter. I’m not sure what such people really stand for, perhaps just that a shared sense of being victimized by the system is what matters. But then that’s not really it, because they don’t share their victimization. So what does that leave, just racism?

    As for the life expectancy issue and ethnicity, Hispanics live longer on average than blacks or whites. Less educated black women outlive equally educated white women. Whites labeled mentally ill live shorter lives than non mentally ill blacks. There are a number of studies showing these are the case and that perhaps it is a growing trend. I’m sure the Dr. above could offer countervailing articles, but the fact is, it is at least a stereotype open to question. This article from the NYT cites a few of them: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/21/us/life-expectancy-for-less-educated-whites-in-us-is-shrinking.html?_r=0

    Again, turning away allies, turning them off. Not allies to “your” cause but to “the cause.” The human cause. Have to deny their pain, have to deny their suffering. Even though their numbers are greater. Why? So they can be the lowest rungs on the ladder. So some blacks can have someone to look down on, just as many poor whites did under slavery and continue to do today. This kind of bottom-runging is particularly evident in BPF’s tendency to mock a white commenter right around fundraising time. Seeing that there are poor, ignorant white folks on the bottom rung, we sure don’t want to look like them!

    Looking forward to my next human life. Only have a life expectancy of another 10-20 yrs as a person labeled mentally ill. On public healthcare. Can’t wait to see what combination of ethnicity, status, wealth and so forth comes up. Brown again or black, man or woman. Cat. Dog. All just facets of the jewel, all facing the same basic issues. Because of that, there is a selfish interest in my thinking. I want my options to be better no matter what. Perhaps there is selfishness too in that much of my family probably identifies as white, or at least are identified as such, and I want them and their offspring to have better options too. Better than are currently available to poor whites in this country, many blacks, and many Hispanics as well. Also, they may be surrounded by other peeps, may marry other peeps, may be the target of other peeps’ racism and resentment, may be tempted to become bottom-runging racists themselves which i know is not satisfying. And so again, serving all people, all ethnicities, serves my own closer relatives as well. It’s mostly not selfish, but there are those motives too.

    May all beings know happiness and the causes of happiness
    May all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
    May all know the joyful freedom free of suffering,
    May all be full of equanimity, free from classifying some skin tones as friends, and others as foes.

    g.

  • John F Eden

    I see your point Ann, probably because I’m white and that’s a very white idea, that idea that all matter equally, at least one that’s much easier to support from the position of white privilege that we enjoy. I mean, really, we all do know that in some kind of technical sense all lives do matter equally, but the point of the BLM campaign is to focus attention on relative seriousness. If you follow Tim Wise, who reports on issues like police brutality in the context of white privilege (he’s white too, by the way), after a while you begin to realize that both houses are in fact NOT on fire. Only the one house is, and tho there are problems in the other house, it’s not on fire, the people there are not in immediate danger of dying, and the decision by the fire department to train their hoses on it would be obvious and clear. Only some kind of blindness would result in the hoses being directed at the non-involved house. The idea of the fire in this analogy is the seriousness of the problems faced, and to me it was pretty clear which house was which, etc… sorry it didn’t connect with you.
    Everyone…
    This is a great conversation, and I hope everyone benefits from seeing all the expanding perspectives it’s generating!

  • ann dash

    Max AIrborne – The method that BLM used with Hillary Clinton. They met PRIVATELY with her. Activists disrupting
    an event creates a disturbance that angers those who were there to hear the speaker and does nothing for the cause. It only makes the participants look like the Tea Partiers everyone attacked for disrupting town hall meetings with their rudeness. It accomplishes nothing.

    Had BLM asked to meet with Mr. Sanders, I’m sure the result would have been even better than what they think
    they accomplished by denying everyone who was present of his wonderful speech time. Taking away the rights of others while fighting for your own is not conducive to attracting allies.

    Had BLM added “too” to their slogan, it might have made their aim clearer.

  • eileen f

    institutionalized racism needs to be addressed by everyone. ironically, bernie sanders is more progressive on civil rights issues than anyone else running for president. i respect the intent of the protest but kind of wish it was done to donald trump or jeb bush or even hilary for that matter. the clinton years were instrumental in filling up prisons with young black males for minor drug offenses and despite the rhetoric about caring about afro-american issues, their history speaks volumes. I am concerned that bernie sanders stoic response to the protest will be used against him later in the campaign. on the other hand, if it spurs candidates to action on the issues, that’s a good thing.

  • Max AIrborne

    Ann, I find this idea that the conversations should be polite and private to be so sad. The private polite conversations have not worked. Black folks are being killed at a horrifying rate BY OUR GOVERNMENT. Polite conversation is not skillful means here.

  • Max AIrborne

    Also, I just need to say that there is a huge difference between the right to not be shot dead by police, and the right to hear a politician’s speech.

  • Lisa

    On a different but related note, how do we help white people with their fear and suffering? Or maybe the first question would be is it possible to do so? It seems like so much aversion to this movement is a manifestation of people being afraid that their suffering will be ignored. Until these fears are addressed, white allyship will be limited. So what do those of you who work with white people think about this?

  • Mike in Seattle

    I was at the event the 2 women disrupted. It was not a Bernie Sanders rally. It was a celebration of Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. Senator Sanders was an invited speaker, as were many others, including many people of color. What I saw was 2 young women being verbally and physically abusive to an elderly gentleman who was the MC of the event. They screamed and shouted and stamped their feet, and hijacked what had been a beautiful, multi-cultural celebration of programs which have helped millions of average Americans of all races. I’m a big supporter of Black Lives Matter, but it wasn’t helpful to the cause to disrupt an event such as this. I didn’t find their actions very compassionate.

    And anybody who thinks Senator Sanders hasn’t spoken out about racism in this country, and acted on it, is ignorant of Sanders’ history.

  • ethan davidson

    I was mad. Why does BLM seem to be dogging Bernie wherever he goes and shutting his actions down. I’m an activist myself and I have had the same issues with the same sort of behavior in other movements. When an organization is both leaderless and bondryless, letting anybody in and letting anybody speaak in the name of the movement, this sort of thing happens, and a couple of people can hijack the agenda.I’m not against disruption as a tactic, but there is a right way to do it. The right way is to stand up, make your point for a couple of minutes, and then sit down or leave. It is also very important to choose your tactics. They seem to be choosing Bernie because he is progressive enohg to actualy listen to them, and when he changes his platform to acomidate them, they berak their arms, patting themselves on the back and say that it worked. Then, the far more conservative Hilarly Clinton gets pretty mcuh a free pass. They get to talk to her later in the overflow room, and her talk is not disrupted. Why didn’t they request Bernie to do the same? I’m sure he would have. This is just another case of progressives squalbling loudly among themselves. So, if it goes on like this, Bernie will not be elected, the public will forget all about these disruptions, and of course, the police will keep killing African Americans, as before.

  • Eko Joshua Goldberg

    Thank you very much Katie for this post and for providing the link to the piece “In Her Own Words: The Political Beliefs of the Protester Who Interrupted Bernie Sanders” (http://www.thestranger.com/blogs/slog/2015/08/11/22680645/in-her-own-words-the-political-beliefs-of-the-protester-who-interrupted-bernie-sanders). It was great to have the opportunity to, in addition to reading thoughtful commentary about the action, read Marissa Johnson’s explanation of the deep context behind the action.

    There was much to admire, respect, and listen to in her words. But what particularly gave me goosebumps was her statement: “I don’t have faith in politicians. I don’t have faith in the electoral process. It’s well documented that that doesn’t work for us. No matter who you are. So my gaze is not toward politicians and getting them to do something in particular. I think they will change what they do based off of what I do, but that’s not my center. My center is using electoral politics as a platform but also agitating so much that people continue to question the system they’re in as they’re doing it, and that we start to dismantle it. Because I refuse to believe that the system that we’re in is the only option that we have. And so we hear people saying—Bernie supporters—”Well, he’s your best option.” It’s like, If he’s our best option then I’m burning this down. I think it’s literally blowing up—this is why the respectability thing is so important—is that you blow it up so big, and so unrespectably, that you can show people the possibilities outside of the system that they’re stuck in. And so that’s why I do agitation work.”

    When I read this I was reminded of the use of katsu (a shout) in the zendo. The katsu is a compassionate call: WAKE UP! Often when I hear it I’m a bit shocked and irritated because I have been jolted out of drifting in my pleasant fantasy, not actually experiencing the present moment. When I twitch and jump in response to katsu, I’ve been caught, nailed, exposed for not being present to what’s actually going on. I’m being pulled into the reality of the present moment instead of bathing in the warm comfort of whatever fantasy (even a hellish one) I’ve been thinking about.

    To me, the real power of this action and the earlier disruption at Netroots Nation was not that it made Bernie Sanders’ campaign get real and improve its position on white supremacy, racism, and anti-black violence (although that does seem to have happened). It was the exposure of the reality of the present moment, both in showing the deep love, strength, and courage of black movements and black women to speak truth to power in the face of tremendous violence and repression; and also nakedly exposing white supremacy and racism among many white “progressives”.

    When Bernie Sanders took the mic in Seattle, he thanked the city for being “one of the most progressive cities in the United States.” When Marissa Johnson took it, she responded to the crowd’s boos by saying, “I was going to tell Bernie how racist this city is, even with all of these progressives, but you’ve already done that for me.” I can only imagine how irritating it must be to people of colour to keep needing to point this out to white people, but am grateful for yet another wakeup call.

    From where I sit as a white person, although these actions were, obviously, not for my liberation or edification, they have been a type of katsu. Through the fantasy of white privilege, although I knew that the system of white supremacy is as brutal as it’s ever been, within “progressive” political movements I have been deluding myself that white people had come farther than this in challenging and unlearning our own racism, and had at least learned the basic skill of being able to listen to people of colour. Nope. This action exposed the intense level of vitriol coming from white people, even white “progressives”, towards black people and the Black Lives Matter movement, and the extent of deflection white people will use to try to detract from the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement. It is telling that so many white people have responded to these actions by complaining that it was rude to speak without an invitation, patronizingly telling black people what would have made a more effective action, debating whether white privilege or anti-black violence or white supremacy exists, trying to re-centre the focus on white people who are vulnerable to police violence, or otherwise making it all about us. According to one journalist, some Sanders supporters attending the Seattle event even called for Marissa Johnson and Mara Willaford to be arrested – to suggest that the police get involved, what does that say about white disregard for black lives and the white desire to shut black people up at any cost to their safety. Some of the comments on this page have been troubling as well, and a good reality check about the need to do more to challenge other white people within Buddhist communities.

    That I’m surprised at all by this white self-centredness is in and of itself a reflection of my white privilege and self-centredness, which allows me to pick and choose how and when I engage on issues of racism and white supremacy, and tune out when other white people annoy me. It is the same white privilege that results in me being very confident that even as a visibly gender-variant, openly queer Jew with a mental illness that sometimes causes public behaviour that is considered abnormal, when I go outside I will not be arrested, interrogated, confined, choked, beaten, or shot because of what I look like. As the Anti-Police Terror Project stated in response to the murder of Joe Bart, a 24 year old black man, killed yesterday by the Oakland Police Department: “We know that across the country – when white folks have firearms and even when they fire AT police – more often than not they are presumed mentally unstable, talked down and taken into custody ALIVE. Even the demon who walked into a Black house of worship and murdered nine people was taken in ALIVE. They even fed him Burger King on the way to jail! But uniformly – Black people are shot first and interrogated/investigated later. This discrepancy in practice is the physical manifestation of the partial and impartial bias against Black life. It is the direct result of the devaluing of Black life by a system of white supremacy that places white life, practice and culture, and the preservation of such, above all else.”

    So, in this moment after the katsu when there is that fleeting direct contact with reality, how to meet it? Whether Sanders, Clinton, or any other aspiring president becomes more savvy/opportunistic about how to address racism in their campaign is up to them. More immediately, what will we as people who call ourselves engaged Buddhists do to respond to Marissa Johnson’s call to create something new and wake up to our own power?

    For my part I vow to:
    * work diligently to stop forgetting the reality of white supremacy, i.e., to see more clearly
    * be honest about my white privilege and use it to help build anti-racist movements
    * challenge systemic racism, colonialism, and white supremacy
    * challenge interpersonal violence, hatred, and bigotry rooted in racist, colonial, and white supremacist thinking
    * talk with other white people about how white supremacy, white privilege, racism, and colonialism plays out in our lives and in our communities, talk about what we can do to change that, and then follow through with action
    * celebrate, appreciate, and promote the survival and liberation work being done by Indigenous people and people of colour, and provide solidarity/support in ways that are requested
    * listen when I get called out for my deluded thinking and mistaken behaviours, and learn from my mistakes
    * invite advice, critique, and comment

  • Dr. Amie Breeze Harper

    Eko. Thank you so much for expressing this in the context of katsu. I really appreciate it.

  • penny p

    I refuse to critique tactics of people who are oppressed in ways that I am not. I felt scared and embarrassed. I am excited about the candidate and was worried he wouldn’t get a chance to speak, and would lose support. But BS is winning. It is righteous to pressure politicians to step up against injustice.

    I love that they shouted “We aren’t reasonable! We aren’t respectable!” — an answer to so many critiques of them. They came to the stage because they needed to be heard.

    What this helped me understand about dismantling my own racism: it’s my responsibility as a white person to respond to call outs of my racism with listening and compassion, even if I disagree.

  • ann dash

    I’m astounded that Buddhists actually believe such bad behavior is more productive to
    achieving a goal than peaceful demonstrations that Martin Luther King advocated.

    He was never rude or disruptive in the same way and look what was achieved with
    his leadership.

    Sorry – violent disruption begets yet more. Police brutality is totally absolutely wrong.
    So is being rude and taking away the rights of those who were at Sanders’ (or any
    other speaker’s) event.

  • Eko Joshua Goldberg

    Hi Ann – You have posted the same comment a number of times in this discussion. As you keep reiterating the same point I wonder if you feel that you have not been heard yet. So, I wanted to say that I have heard you. And I disagree with your perspective. In this maybe we can learn something from each other about how white people can talk with each other about racism, and practice that with each other instead of continuing what I think is an unproductive reiteration of the same points that have already been said. I am not sure how to engage with you as you seem to have already made your mind up and not be very interested in discussing anything. If you are interested in a conversation, where you have time to talk and also time to listen to a different perspective, I am happy to talk with you in this public forum or you can email me at jgoldberg at shaw.ca.

  • ann dash

    Eko Joshua Goldberg – I have unsubscribed from the Buddhist Peace Fellowship because I
    disagree with them on this issue and don’t want to be part of the discussion any more. I’ve
    said what was on my mind and nothing can change it. BLM needs to learn some manners.

  • John F Eden

    Closed mind, closed book. Wow, I have learned so much from this exchange. Sorry some have not. But thank you especially to Eko – the tenor and flavor of your responses is wonderful, as is the content of your messages! I plan to be more engaged on this and other issues as a result of this highly edifying discussion, and will be even more frequently a visitor to the BPF site! You guys seriously rock! Did I say that already? Sorry for repeating myself… :)

  • Dr. Amie Breeze Harper

    It is an amazing phenomenon that so many, mostly white, liberals (at least with my social science research focused on critical studies of race and whiteness) hold on to a particular view of ‘non-violence’ by always always/compulsively pointing to Martin Luther King Jr. as the BLACK person who didn’t make them feel ‘uncomfortable’ because he wasn’t ‘rude’ (at least how he is represented by sanitized k-12 USA education as the ‘symbol’ of how all Black people should aspire to be in a ‘post-racial’ era). It is an example of tokenizing as well. I’d like to ask he question again: how do 2 Black women’s actions represent BLM as not having ‘proper’ leadership? These are 2 women who have engaged in BLM in the way they feel they need to but it doesn’t mean that the leadership of BLM is failing. This argument has been used by White people, since the Civil Rights era, when the collectivity of white identified people make the claim that Black people don’t engage in ‘proper’ and ‘civilized’ change-making methods like MLK Jr. “Where is the Black leadership!?” is the mantra when the status quo witnesses the collateral damage of systemic racism and white supremacy…and the marginalized fight against it via ‘non-proper’ ‘white’ ‘civilized’ methods. And then this rationalization becomes the reason for white people to collectively not be in solidarity with anti-racism movements that don’t align with this white imagination of MLK Jr.’s ’non-violence.’

    Being rude and violent are not objective or at least, easily discernible (right word?). I find it very violent that mostly white people will only engage in dismantling racism if Black people do it on THEIR (white) people’s terms of ‘non-violent’ MLK Jr. approach that SHOULD supposedly involve models of ‘white civility’… Unfortunately, this expectation , via white liberalism, has greatly helped maintain and perpetuate systemic racism and atrocities such as the New Jim Crow (era of mass incarceration of Black people). MLK Jr ‘non-violent’ approach through the white imagination DOES NOT ALWAYS WORK. Once again, who is defining violence? It can be read as violent acts when a significant number of white people publicly say that these 2 women are irritating them about ‘complaining’ about systemic racist violence against Black people on stage…that the Ferguson protesters are irritating….that Baltimore protesters are irritating… has incredibly violent consequences. Being ‘PROPER’ can be VIOLENT or result in MASS VIOLENCE. I think it is unfair and dangerous to hold onto MLK JR non-violence, via how it is conveniently defined by white liberal imagination. It scares me very deeply that one would even have the privilege to leave the conversation. As mentioned before, I fear so deeply for my 3 children, my twin brother, my parents, etc. I can’t leave the conversation. It’s hard to read tone on this medium, but I am not expressing anger or fury (I feel like I need to make that clear) against white liberals; more like fear and concern about what this mainstream logic (i.e. white liberal methods of battling racism) will yield, in terms of systemic and racialized consequences.

  • ann dash

    Dr. Amie Breeze Harper

    Wow….can’t believe I read that. You find it “violent” because people (white and black) want
    you to be “non-violent?” Rationalizing bad behavior will make your goals unreachable.

  • Dr. Amie Breeze Harper

    ann dash. I am critiquing white liberal versions of MLK ‘non-violence’. I am critiquing how MLK ‘non-violence’ is translated through white liberal logic; I am not saying that one should not engage in the essence of ‘non-violence’… but that white logic and methods ALTER the concept of MLK JR ‘non-violence’ that ends up sustaining and perpetuating violence at the systemic level (and usually unknowingly). White logic and methods set the rules of engagement…even when it comes to how racialized minorities SHOULD ‘enact’ MLK JR. ‘non-violence’. The women’s behavior was read (by mainstream) as ‘violent’ and ‘rude’… but I would say it was a non-violent wake up call to a majority of people whose silence or lack of critical race literacy around systemic racism, has been perpetuating racialized violence. To NOT have these types of ‘disruptive’ wake up calls to the racial status quo who expects ‘non-violence’ to be enacted on their terms (i.e., “Why don’t they ‘properly’ schedule to meet with the candidate and use the right political language.. etc) has systemically violent consequences that are racialized (i.e. the support for the Welfare Reform Act in the mid 1990s, NAFTA, and the Prison Industrial Complex all came out of ‘non-violent’ actions supported by white liberals who couldn’t forsee the violently racialized consequences 10, 20, 30 years down the road).

    Sorry I did not articulate this clearer enough.

  • Dr. Amie Breeze Harper

    By the way, I am not making these concepts up (i.e. white logic, white methods). There is plenty of social science research from research 1 schools (yes, I have to make that clear) that explain how white liberalism operates and is in collusion with upholding systems of racism and whiteness…. even when white liberals (collectively) feel that their intended actions SHOULD yield different results.

    I can put up a bibliography if people are interested in understanding these via the strong canons of critical studies of race, critical race feminism, decolonial theory, and critical whiteness studies.

  • Dr. Amie Breeze Harper

    Also wanted to note that when you live in a racial caste system, like here in the USA, the process of racial formation also FORMS the consciousness and how folk think about what is ‘justice’, what is ‘non-violent’, what is’ moral’ or even ‘appropriate’ behavior. Those who were born and socialized into whiteness in the USA collectively understand and enact ‘non-violence’, ‘justice’, and ‘morality’ very differently than the collectivity of those born and socialized as ‘Black’ in the USA. We witness this even in how people understand, interpret and enact Buddhism principles of ‘non-violence’. I witnessed this as I wrote about the significant difference of ‘cruelty-free’ between white vegan led organizations and Black vegan communities.

    I hope that clarifies what I’m trying to express. I admit it probably wasn’t the best way to articulate what I was trying to explain when I first wrote. Admittedly, was distracted by trying to nurse a baby while typing with one hand.

    Below is a bibliography.

    Crass, Chris. Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy.

    Cheah, Joseph. Race and Religion in American Buddhism: White Supremacy and Immigrant Adaptation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

    Goldberg, David Theo. The Threat of Race: Reflections on Racial Neoliberalism. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009.

    Harper, Amie Louise. Cyberterrortories of Whiteness. Master’s thesis, Harvard University, 2007.

    Harper, Amie Louise. Vegan Consciousness and the Commodity Chain: On the Neoliberal, Afrocentric, and Decolonial Politics of “cruelty-free” PhD diss., University of California-Davis, 2013.

    Lombardo, Marc. Economies of Whiteness: On the Social Ecology of White Liberals.

    Yancy, George. What White Looks Like: African-American Philosophers on the Whiteness Question. New York: Routledge, 2004.

    Zuberi, Tukufu, and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva. White Logic, White Methods: Racism and Methodology. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008.

  • Eko Joshua Goldberg

    Dr. Harper, thank you for your posts. The fear and terror you describe is heartbreaking and so viscerally conveys the urgency and importance of the ongoing struggle against white supremacy. And thank you too for posting additional resources to help further explore how white liberalism upholds systems of racism and whiteness!

    Ann, you have posted again on this thread so I wonder if you are maybe more open to discussion than you thought earlier. In case this is so, below is how I am trying, in a fumbling sort of way, to practice with your most recent post. Even thought I’m clumsy around this I hope that it is helpful in creating more possibility of real discussion rather than being stuck in a repetitive knee-jerk reactive circle. Hopefully also it will provide an opportunity for other folks in this thread to comment on what constitutes “skillful means” when it comes to working with other white people.

    1. I stop typing, breathe, and re-read your words a few times. Just trying to deeply listen to what you are saying, without preparing my response or continuing the argument in my head.

    2. Breathing in, I remind myself that there is nothing I need to defend, protect, or justify; that this is a conversation with a white person who I do not agree with, not a dogfight. Breathing out, I consciously ask my body to relax and try to let go of my preconceived idea about how this discussion is going to go, open to the possibility of not knowing.

    3. Breathing in, I contact the aspiration that black people will be safe in the face of white people’s defensiveness, outrage, and self-centredness. Breathing out, I say, “May all black people be safe. May all black people be well. May all black people be free from harm.”

    4. Breathing in, I consciously ask my body to relax, re-read your comments, and try to have some curiosity and openness to what arises in me as I am reading your words. Breathing out, I feel the physical sensations of anger — tightness in my chest and heat rising — and notice my aversion to that experience, and how that quickly becomes aversion to talking with other white people about racism.

    5. Breathing in, I notice my desire to be a ‘good’ white person and my anxiety about doing the right thing in response to your writing. Breathing out, I feel sadness and grief at how much white people hurt people of colour and ourselves through our racism and self-centredness.

    6. Breathing in, I reflect on the delusions, ignorance, and aversions white people have as a result of being immersed in a racist, white supremacist culture. Breathing out, I feel grateful to Shakyamuni Buddha, Mahapajapati Gotami, and all other teachers who have provided a way to deal with delusional, ignorant, and aversive thinking, and to all of the activists who have helped point the way to how we can decolonize our minds, hearts and bodies.

    7. Breathing in and breathing out, I read Ricky Sherover-Marcuse’s “Working Assumptions For White Activists On Eliminating Racism: Guidelines For Recruiting Other Whites As Allies” (http://www.unlearningracism.org/writings/white_activists.htm) and Malcolm X’s instructions on “where sincere whites who really mean to accomplish something have got to work” (from the Autobiography of Malcolm X), to help me try to speak honestly and from the heart in this exchange.

    8. Breathing in, I reflect on the ways that white supremacy teaches white people that our opinions are most important and that we are smarter, more correct, and more insightful than people of colour. Breathing out, I reflect on the importance of white people learning how to listen when black people speak their truth, from a position of humility and open-mindedness; and to be willing to be wrong and to learn from our mistakes.

    9. Breathing in, I contact the aspiration that all white people who feel threatened by black people’s honesty will be able to see their fear response as a manifestation of racist training. Breathing out, I contact the aspiration that white people will help each other expose and uncover the ways in which we think and act in ways that are racist.

    10. Breathing in, I place my hands palm to palm and bow to the “millions of people in motion for Black liberation at this moment, and courageous Black feminist leadership [that] is front and center and the vision, strategy, inspiration, and guidance of the leaderful ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ movement…and the leaders who give us energy, who give us hope, who connect us to ancestral liberation movements and movements of liberation and humanity loving people today” (https://www.facebook.com/chris.crass.75/posts/10153575537397941?fref=nf). Breathing out, I thank everyone who is taking part in this discussion. May we all wake up together!

  • Dr. Amie Breeze Harper

    ann dash, by the way, even though you want to leave the conversation, these interactions are helpful for me. I am a career activist involved in anti-racism scholarship and consulting. I am always learning and it helps to hear all perspectives and to improve the work I have been doing over the past 20 years.

  • Bob Martin

    I have to wonder what would have happened if, as Bernie’s people had offered, the two had waited until Bernie had finished addressing the crowd and invited them up.

    Would they have been welcomed by the crowd and their message delivered to people that aren’t already part of the choir (who are now lauding them).

    Would there have been a dialog with Bernie Sanders – something that might have even gone down in the history books as a turning point?

    We will never know, because what we’ve been left with is another highly divisive moment in history. And it really doesn’t matter which side of this debate you fall on, it’s become more, rather than less, divisive.

  • Katie Loncke

    Listening, reading. Thanking everyone for your contributions.

    Eko, wow — katsu. Yes. Yes. Thank you so much for not only bringing in these dimensions of practice, but doing it in such a thoughtful and open way. It’s bringing more room for me to be open, too.

    Likewise thank you penny, Lisa, Max, eileen, Ethan, Mike, cesar, Breeze — really everyone. And Geoffrey and ann, too. The polarization is clearly real, but it’s also bringing forth some wisdom that’s really helpful for me, and for other folks I’ve been speaking to offline. So from a personal place, thank you.

    Special thanks to you, Jonathan, for loving criticism. I agree — snapping back at ann was not as skillful as I’d like to be.

    ann, I apologize. Honestly, it’s been so much lately. Just a few days ago, a 24-year-old Black man was murdered by police (shot in the back while fleeing) mere blocks from the BPF office. Every time a Black person is murdered by police, security offers, or self-appointed vigilantes (which is an average of one Black person every 28 hours, so almost literally every day), I feel it on a visceral, personal level. This is part of the background of violence informing my celebration of Black women commanding space to *strongly* highlight the epidemic-level state-sanctioned murder of Black people. It would have helped me a lot if you could have first acknowledged the seriousness of state-sanctioned violence against Black people, before getting into your critique of Black Lives Matter. If I’m hearing you clearly now, while you do truly care about this violence against Black people, it’s not something you wish to honor or highlight as a separate issue. It is one form of violence among many, and highlighting it feels divisive. Again, I obviously disagree. But either way, I was ungenerous in the beginning, and I’m sorry for that.

    Geoffrey (and ann), I hear your desire to honor and mourn all lives lost to violence. But it just does not bear out. “Black-on-Black violence” happens at the same rates as “white-on-white violence,” only no one ever mentions the second term because historically this country has an ingrained habit-pattern of criminalizing Black people, pointing the finger of blame at us, and condemning us as hyper-violent. Many of the resources that Dr. Harper listed can helpfully speak to this history.

    There are other factors on my heart and mind that inform my joy at Black women taking up space. The #SayHerName movement to highlight the state-sanctioned murder of Black women is part of it. I would also welcome Black transgender women commanding attention on national stages in ways that feel productive, to them, for their struggles, even if they appear impolite to onlookers. Since January, 15 transgender women of color, mostly Black women, have been murdered, not only because of individual violence, but the *structural and systemic violence* that devalues the lives of trans women of color on a daily basis. And in contrast to the ‘progress’ on marriage equality in the US, I don’t see mainstream, white-led, queer organizations making space to lift up the lives and struggles of trans women of color.

    Another thought I have is this: we can go back and forth praising and critiquing the actions of certain Black women activists. And / or, we can consciously endeavor to *proliferate* the celebration and praise of other Black women doing social justice work in ways that get us hyped and tender. I love showing love for Black women who are, as Dr. Harper puts it, Doing Something — even if it’s not exactly the same as my own methodologies for major-event shutdowns. I personally feel there’s room for variations on the theme, and in the meantime I can continue building with Black liberation groups in my area to do things in a way we perceive is appropriate for our own context.

    Okay, that’s it for now. Deep bows for this rich conversation as it continues to unfold.

    metta,
    katie

  • John F. Eden

    Deep bows once again to you Katie, for your brave steps into troubled waters, bringing us all to such deep introspection, liberating ourselves by examining and analyzing, as the lojong #55 says. This is one of the most lively forums I know of these days!

  • Karen Murray

    This incident is such a great opportunity to learn what we’re all made of. These outstanding young women came out very passionately for the lives that are lost daily without much of a murmur from the general population. Black Lives Matter is not a special interest group. It deals with the systematic institutional murder of people of color ingrained in our political and social fabric.
    I have been following Bernie Sanders for a while. He has been consistent and has been a civil rights advocate as well. I think we should all take notes from him. He was not reactionary, stewing in anger. I believe he looked at the actions of these young women and understands their passion.
    That the BLM women chose a Sanders rally to crash shows that Bernie Sanders has a large enough draw to make it worth their consideration, then it gave him a greater forum to speak from.
    I must admit to finding irony in Ann Dash’s comments on bad behavior as some of her comments seem to demonstrate just that, on anything Buddhist, much less a Buddhist Peace Fellowship forum.

  • John Fred Eden

    Thanks Karen Moody, salient point there that it compliments Bernie to be chosen for this action. I think many of us are reactive because we fear for his fragile candidacy, but as you say, this really can strengthen his appeal. And sadly seems you’re right in the other point also…

  • Eko Joshua Goldberg

    Hello everyone – came across an article “Spiritual Practices for White Discomfort” (http://blueboat.blogs.uua.org/2015/08/17/spiritual-practices-for-white-discomfort/) today and thought it might be of interest to some of the folks here. It was written in part to respond to white people commenting on social media about the action in Seattle that we have been talking about, but I found many of the suggestions for spiritual practices helpful more broadly in thinking about how to use Buddhist practice to engage myself and other white people to be better able to support liberation & survival movements like Black Lives Matter.

    From the article’s intro: “…The opinion I wish to share here and now, however, is not about political analysis, history or strategy and it’s certainly not about the particular incident in Seattle. It is about spiritual practices. It’s about how as a person of faith, a Unitarian Universalist minister, and a middle class educated white woman who cares deeply about racial justice, I use spiritual practices to sit with my white discomfort. What do I mean by white discomfort? I mean a social trend that I see repeatedly and an emotional reaction I’ve observed in myself. It goes something like this: The media breaks a story about something that Black Lives Matter activists did. Maybe somebody burned a building or blocked a freeway or shouted during a leisure event or interrupted a politician. White people react to such stories in a variety of ways. There’s everything from vocal and undaunted support to blatantly racist rants. I want to focus on those of us who fall somewhere in the middle of that reaction spectrum. I want to focus on those of us who feel confusion about why these tactics were chosen, who feel concerned that the tactics might be alienating or “going too far,” who feel afraid for how others further down the spectrum will react, who feel angry about being made to feel uncomfortable. The spiritual practices I suggest here are designed for us: the white liberals in the middle of the reaction spectrum. And while I’m a devout Unitarian Universalist, these practices can be done by someone of any or no faith. These are practices that decenter our egos and help us to learn and grow while being compassionate with ourselves and faithful to our values.”

    – Full post: http://blueboat.blogs.uua.org/2015/08/17/spiritual-practices-for-white-discomfort/

  • Nathan

    This discussion reminds me so much of what took place two summers ago on multiple posts I wrote here about race and Buddhism. It’s painful and sad how repetitive it all is, even though there are always some brilliant comments and insights shared in the process.

    I only have a few points to add.

    1. Since white liberals and progressives are so fond of raising MLK in these kind of discussions, perhaps they should go back and actually read the historical record. Study the tactics used and the reactions that followed. Pretty much everything MLK proposed and led from 1957 on was subject to deep hostility from most of white America – even many who claimed to support the Civil Rights movement. Furthermore, the supposedly “polite” and never “problematically disruptive” King was jailed 29 times during his life by white officials who clearly thought otherwise. The same kind of objections Ann and a few other make above were attached to the man they now name drop endlessly from almost the day he stepped forth as a leader.

    But enough about King.

    I really think that beyond systemic racism and white supremacy, one of the points of contention here is the tension between electoral politics and social movements. Those who are strongly invested in electoral politics seem to be less tolerant of the disruptive tactics that come with vibrant social movements. At the same time, some who have given up on electoral politics are hostile to anything associated with that avenue of change. And when folks on both ends of the spectrum come together, sparks tend to fly because they speak different languages and – frankly – see the way the world of power works quite differently.

    Having spent my share of time investing heavily in electoral politics, I understand the desire to protect and promote someone like Bernie Sanders. Back in 2000, I felt similarly about another upstart candidate named Ralph Nader. But what’s so sad to me is how so many white progressives in particular are choosing to reject and distance themselves from black liberation movements like BLM because they see the disruptions of a handful of Sanders’ speeches as THE threat against their candidate. Never mind the countless ways in which the establishment can, and nearly always do take down anyone running for office on the left who is even a whiff of radical in their positions.

    Lastly, I’ll say this: no one really knows what the full impact of all this will be. Bob Martin above raises “the history books” and points to the disruption of Sanders’ speeches as simply a “divisive” moment. The same was said of actions in other cities in the months and years before the MLK led Birmingham campaign that finally started to shift the views of average white Americans. My own great grandfather (a powerful state senator in Minnesota during the early 20th century) sided with the majority of American men on a similar line of commentary putting down every action of the women’s suffrage movement. I’ve read numerous speeches the man made citing the activists leading the movement in Minnesota as “the greatest threat to democracy” there was. The U.S. was involved in one of the bloodiest conflicts in the history of the planet at the time – World War I – but my great grandfather and so many other men saw women seeking the right to vote as the biggest threat of their lives.

    Honestly, when I read some of the hostility from liberal and progressive white folks against black liberation movements like BLM, I see a very similar set of distortions going on.

  • Dr. Amie Breeze Harper

    Nathan, yes, I remember that.

    Nathan, in regard to you bringing up King, thanks. What is have written is what I meant about the white liberal imagination/narrative about King (versus what he ACTUALLY did– and how he started becoming a ‘problem’ when he was not advocating for black to be equal players within a capitalist system but was advocating that capitalism itself is a real evil). Thanks for bringing that up and the examples of he being jailed.

    Best
    Breeze

  • Dr. Amie Breeze Harper

    I also wanted to note that there is something very strategic about how Black Lives Matter movement is being attacked; and that these attacks are supported by many “But I’m not racist” white liberals. Hard to articulate now, but I think of the Shaun King fiasco right now. Look at all the attention towards him, via Breitbart, about he not really being “black.” Breitbart serves as a mechanism to get the masses distracted from the REAL problems of systemic racism and white supremacy by using these tactics. And even people I consider ‘critical thinkers’, took the bait.

    Thanks for dialoging.

    Breeze

  • Eko Joshua Goldberg

    Thank you Dr. Harper for pointing this out – I am in Canada and the coverage here has been quite limited (both in alternative and mainstream press) so have not been aware of these concerted efforts both to attack/attempt to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement and also distract from the real issues. I note also that there has been zero news coverage up here of the murders of Amber Monroe, Ashton O’Hara, Elisha Walker, Joe Bart, Kandis Capri, Michael Robinson, Nathaniel Wilks, or Schade Schuler.

    It is disturbing to hear that the smear tactics are working and that people are not staying focused on the state of emergency regarding state sanctioned violence against black people, and the desperate need for immediate action. For people closer to what is going on on the ground, any comments on what can be done in terms of international solidarity/support to refocus attention on where it needs to be?

  • peter

    I was initially very hurt by the actions of the two women at the Seattle event but realized that I was allowing my reactive mind to control the dialogue…What happened actually was a great moment for dialectical analysis! Waking up from the dream… They did a great service for everyone to really search their anger about ” the SITUATION” we all face Be it white black brown etc. Focus! But… Will BLM use this energy and confront the right wing/fascist movement?

  • Michael Bresnahan

    I would invite the BPF to officially endorse the cal, of the Stpp Mass Incarceration Network for a militant and massive
    demonstration in NYC in October to Stop Poliice Terror.

    The SMIN was founded by Cornel West and Car, Dix (Revolutiinary Communist Party) years ago.

    Please go to the website and check out the rationale for the “Rise Up Octiber” demonstration and have discussion
    about it.

    Thank you.

    Mike Bresnahan

  • Michael Bresnahan

    Sorry for the typos.

    Stop Mass Incarceration Network

    Cornel West and Carl Dix (RCP)

    I have been working with them for the past year and have been impressed. By their passion and principles.

    Hoping that sectarianism will not get in the way of people uniting around this.

    You or anyone can call me around this 617-515-3090

    Thank you again.

    M

  • Eden

    Am in support of the goals of SMIN, but think we should look into anything with RCP background… I have great respect for Dr. West, and expect that it’s fine, but RCP had some questionable tactics, etc. back in the day. Haven’t kept up with them for 30 yrs. but just think it bears checking out carefully.

  • Michael Bresnahan

    I sincerely understand Eden. I was an RCP cadre back in “the day” in Louisville, KY. Worked in a foundry for 6.5 years and did some significant human rights/civil rights issues. Won’t go into here but I have some “cred” there.

    Let’s face it there was plenty of sectarianism to go around back then and every tendency could be called on mistakes;
    some serious.

    I left in 1980 . The setback in China, repression, burn out etc….

    I am not a cadre now but I am a strong but not uncritical supporter. The RCP’s political line has evolved quite a bit since then on several fronts. LGBT issues, women and patriarch, and a new synthesis of Communism.

    Cornel West, Eve Ensler, Noam Chomsky, and Alice Walker are not “dupes” for anyone. And they all have in one way or another worked with the RCP around the issues of police terror.

    Carl Dix the co-founder with Cornel West of SMIN was one of Fort Lewis Six . One of the first active duty GI’s during Vietnam to refuse to go to Vietnam. He spent 2 years in a federal pen.

    He is legit and no one’s dupe.

    I am acquainted with some of the leadership. They are not “perfect” by any means but they have a deep hatred for the crimes of capitalism – Imperialism and a deep love for humanity.

    I am not asking anyone to be uncritical in their support of anything. Thich Nhat Hanh nails it on that. (If it wasn’t for Thay’s teachings especially the 14 Mindfulness Trainings I might not be alive today. (Bipolar – depression )

    But I am asking you to check out the SMIN website and the RCP website if you have serious questions about them.

    It’s all out front on both websites.

    RCP is revcom.us and SMIN is SMIN.net.

    I think the Rise Up October demo is really important.

    Thanks Eden for your honest and principled reply.

    Michael

    PS I was a middle school math teacher in Cambridge , MA for many years. Had to retire early because of onset of BPD.

    I was one of the Notre Dame 10 and was expelled in 1969 from Notre Dame for blocking recruitment of CIA and Dow Chemical at Notre Dame.

  • John Fred Eden

    I honor you for your service to the radical cause! Thanks for your reply. I support what you’re doing and appreciate you addressing my concerns so forthrightly. I’ll check it out, and hope the BPF leadership will consist your request. You probably should send directly, as this is a pretty old thread and might not be seen by anybody but me! :)

  • Dr. Amie Breeze Harper

    I am still reading it and following. Just haven’t had enough time to respond.

    Thanks everyone for the continued discussion.

  • John Eden

    Dr. Harper – what is your response to the Rise Up October event? I just went to the website for SMIN and looks good… had reservations re: the RCP link but seems unfounded, good support for the organization from good people, so I’m in support.

  • Dr. Amie Breeze Harper

    Haven’t had a chance to look at the site yet. We are moving frantically (a family of 5 , 3 of which are 6 and under) and just found a place to live (up 2 days ago, we thought we were going to be without a home).

    But, I’m going to read through everything when I am more settled down. Right now am taking a snack break between moving and checking my mail ;-)

    Just “Breeze” is fine. No “Dr.” needed :-)

    Breeze

  • Michael Bresnahan

    Thank you John and Dr. Harper for responding to my request to consider supporting ths Rise Up October manifestation against police terror planned for October.

    There was a meeting in NY on August 27th to further organize RUO . It is live streamed on the SMIN website. There were many family members of Black and Latino people whose lives were stolen from them by police murder.

    Cornel West and Carl Dix spoke as well as members of the faith community in NY.

    I found it be very moving .

    I suggest that if anyone on BPF leadership or BPF members who want an honest look into RUO to please view this.

    This system does “stink”.

    People need to stand and struggle for a more just and compassionate world.

    M

  • John Eden

    Breeze! Thanks, I’ll consider that an affirmation of friendship and very much appreciate it! I’m down here in the old rural south and feel so cut off from what’s happening in the larger world, so treasure these online connections with folks like you who are in it… Sorry your life is stressful on that level! I understand personal stuff – moving is one of those high-level stress-ers! –please feel no pressure from me to respond, just interested.
    And thanks for your input Michael. I don’t know the path to BPF leadership… Katie Loncke is the main one who needs to see this and I know she’s very busy…
    I was very impressed with the SMIN site, loved Alice Walker’s video – if she’s in, I’m in. She’s at the top of most of my lists! Very trusted voice. Of course Cornel West also. I think if they notice this, they’ll be on board. But there are a lot of concerns and actions – this is one of BPFs main foci, however. So keep poking them!

  • Katie Loncke

    Hey all!

    Still feeling grateful for this conversation. Breeze, I hope the move has been relieving, exciting, and not too stressful! (For those of y’all not near the Bay Area — it is HARD to find a place around here right now, which is also of course related to racist housing legacies. So moving is often a major victory. Congrats, Breeze! :)

    Just a couple of quick comments — Michael, thank you for bringing up Rise Up October event in NYC and the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. Apologies for our slowness in response: part of that is that we want to tread carefully and deliberately when issuing National calls. Before we encourage BPF folks in NYC to hop on board with something, we want to dialogue with them about it and feel it out.

    First I want to say that I **hella** appreciate your transparency as a “strong yet critical supporter” of the RCP. Your engagement here has been some of the most thoughtful and approachable of much of the RCP political engagement I’ve ever encountered — and there is a sizable contingent here in the Bay, as I’m sure you know. Unfortunately my experience with this chapter (and I don’t want to necessarily generalize to all chapters, but I’m just being honest about my personal experience) is that the Bay Area RCP often seems to act opportunistically and somewhat dogmatically in the struggles of Black and Brown folks in this area. At the same time, they reliably show up to many important events — even if they are sometimes dominating the bullhorn.

    Stop Mass Incarceration Now does seem to be a useful project that’s gaining momentum, interwoven with struggle on a number of fronts — from the recent historic prisoner hunger strikes in California, to the Black Lives Matter phenomenon founded by queer Black women. I don’t necessarily see a lot of visibly and vocally queer Black women’s leadership in local RCP stuff (though it’s heartening to see Alice Walker, coiner of the term “womanist,” signing on to the national NYC call).

    So all in all, again, I truly appreciate you bringing this forward, and I’m interested to talk with BPF folks in the NYC area to get their sense of what kinds of Buddhist support might be possible and desirable.

    We’ll also check in about it here at BPF HQ and see about endorsing the call.

    Also wanted to respond to Nathan’s (hey Nathan! :) comment on the friction between electoral and outside-electoral strategies.

    “I really think that beyond systemic racism and white supremacy, one of the points of contention here is the tension between electoral politics and social movements. Those who are strongly invested in electoral politics seem to be less tolerant of the disruptive tactics that come with vibrant social movements. At the same time, some who have given up on electoral politics are hostile to anything associated with that avenue of change. And when folks on both ends of the spectrum come together, sparks tend to fly because they speak different languages and – frankly – see the way the world of power works quite differently.”

    Thank you for naming this, Nathan! I find that recognizing the tension is really helpful — and so is striving to remain open-minded about how to work with it. Maybe a longer conversation, but again, just from personal experience — I’ve seen some AMAZING and beautiful recent political struggle here in Oakland that has come from insider-outsider alliances between folks who are pushing elected officials in traditional ways, and folks who are Shutting Shit Down and actively repudiating the white-centering logic of respectability politics (because it is, as Breeze has been saying, violent and toxic to our spirits). It’s marvelous what is possible when these different methodological strains not only tolerate but embrace each other. (Marvelous, though still complicated — as revolutionary Grace Lee Boggs says, each advance or victory opens up a new set of contradictions.)

    One of those recent struggles has been around anti-gentrification, housing, and racial justice in Oakland. The progressive neighborhood coalition that had been meeting with elected officials to try to stop an illegal land sale (to no avail) welcomed the disruptive tactics of direct action — and the combined forces, plus some stellar independent journalism, have thus far saved the parcel of land from being sold off for luxury condos.

    You can see video of the city council shutdown here:

    https://www.facebook.com/events/1032977143381012/permalink/1036201063058620/

    One of the lessons I’m learning from this campaign is how powerful it is for non-black folks to open-heartedly trust Black leadership. And for Black leaders to again and again *unapologetically* take up space against systems of policymaking that were not constructed for Black people’s well-being.

    Ok that’s it for now! Much love, y’all!

  • Katie Loncke

    P.S. my understanding is that the Boston Workers Alliance is another group that has skillfully navigated the electoral-and-disruptive-dissidents tension, especially in their successful campaign, ending in 2010, to end the Criminal Offender Record Information act that promoted discrimination against jobseekers with criminal records.

    http://www.bostonworkersalliance.org/campaigns/

    I’m sure we could name a bunch more inspiring examples of “arm’s-length alliances” and coalitions that come together for emergency campaign purposes, despite political, strategic, or tactical differences. Of course, this doesn’t erase the political differences in the long term… but it seems like it can create a healthy foundation of trust (especially among individuals), if no single group dominates or sells the other one(s) out.

    <3

  • Michael Bresnahan

    Thanks Katie. I appreciate your honesty as well. I would suggest that you and BPF leadership go to SMIN website and check out the video of the August 27th meeting in NYC to see the depth and breadth of the support for RUO in NYC.

    It kind of sums up what RUO is all about.

    I can’t speak for the Bay Area RCP folks. Your experience is your experience.

    Thanks for considering an endorsement

    Would you be interested in talking to an SMIN person in the Bay Area?

    I’ve been following BPF for a while now and I’m thrilled by it.

    Anyway, thanks again.

    Michael

  • Eko Joshua Goldberg

    Hello everyone – Breeze I hope the move is going as smoothly as possible for you & your family and that your new place quickly comes to feel like home for all of you.

    A friend just sent this to me in response to some discussion/despair/frustration about the impending Canadian government election and the absolutely horrible stand being taken by a party that historically had strongly progressive roots (and is the only real chance of defeating the current right wing government that has been so destructive) but is now promising mega bucks to increase policing – their tag line in a recent speech made in a predominantly working class largely South Asian community was “It’s boots on the ground that fight crime”. This immediately brought up for me an image of jackboots & the SS, but now I will think of boots on the ground this way – Boots Riley!

    http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2015/8/27/extended_boots_riley_interview_on_hip

    The interview includes discussion of the need for both events that are about spectacle and also more direct disruption of business as usual, and also analysis of electoral politics that reminded me of this discussion so thought I would share here in case there’s anyone else who hadn’t seen it.

    Katie thank you for the inspiring examples of insider-outsider alliances, that video was amazing – I’ve shared it with local anti-gentrification & affordable housing activists who I think will be very heartened. And thanks also for your thoughtful reflections on the lessons you are learning, which are very timely and relevant up here too, particularly with respect to Indigenous-led movements and struggles.

    Very happy this discussion is continuing and thankful for this opportunity to learn!

  • Ganhar Massa

    Very good!

    I worship to your articles :).

    The best way to change the world is to love without asking anything in return. The more love you give the more you receive!

  • Sage Mahosadha

    This behavior by Marisa Johnson and Mara Willaford, especially during the first three minutes, before they had gotten what they wanted, does not meet my personal definition of non-violent direct action by any stretch of my imagination. It does however, clearly meet my definition of straight up bullying behavior, pure and simple. I have read all the defenses for these two women’s behavior from various sources. Which is why it has taken me so long to post this comment. I wanted to make sure I read an exhaustive amount of defenses. I believe I have at this point read just about every defense that it out there. I understand them. Some carry more water than others for me. However, none of them disabuse me of my sense that their action was essentially one of bullying.

    I am a thirty-nine year veteran of progressive social justice activism and direct action. I marched in the late 70s against America’s involvement in Central America. I am a former member of ACT UP and Queer Nation. I even, for a brief moment in time flirted with being involved in Earth First. I have been in more marches than some young activists have had birthdays. I am aware of everything from the most mild mannered to the most extreme expressions of direct action and everything in between. So my opinion of this action by Marisa Johnson and Mara Willaford is not born from ignorance in me nor from a a lack of awareness about the culture, history, and diverse expressions of direct action of either the truly nonviolent variety, the somewhat violent variety, nor the blatantly violent variety.

    Bullying, in my book is not nonviolent direct action. And whatever words anyone throws at this action as a justification for these two women’s behavior, for me, is absolutely not an example of the ends justifying the means.

  • Michael Bresnahan

    Not sure who the women you are referring to are and what action you are talking about Sage.

    M

  • Michael Bresnahan

    Ok now I know who they are and the incident being referred to. I think the sensitive issue for some is Bernie. I think Bernie is a nice guy and well intentioned.

    But view is that any of the candidates will still “preside” over empire. Bernie would never be able to make some of
    the reforms he speaks of under this system.

    And he still still speaks of having the “strongest military in the world”. To what purpose? To extend and maintain empire?

    To me BLM matter has done great work in exposing police terror.

    I still believe they are somewhat reformist as is their recent focus on pressuring politicians. That is my opinion not
    RCPs. As I said before, I’m a strong supporter not member or spokesperson.

    On the other hand I don’t consider their tactics “bullying”

    The real bullying is police terror, murder, and harassment in my opinion.

    I appreciate your comments Sage. It is important to be honest and principled.

    And you are.

    Michael Bresnahan

    Stop Mass Incarceration/Rise Up October (identification only)

  • Michael Bresnahan

    Typo:

    But in my view any of the candidates will still preside over empire.

  • Sage Mahosadha

    Hi Michael,

    Thank you for your words. I do appreciate them.

    My opinion about and opposition to the very specific actions of Marisa Johnson and Mara Willaford (meaning my thoughts about them cannot necessarily be generalized to any other activists actions) have absolutely nothing to do with Bernie Sanders. I realize you did not suggest that they did. I simply want to be clear about that. I realize that the opposition many have about the action of these two women is grounded in their respect for or support for Bernie Sanders. This is not the case for me. Bernie Sanders is a non-issue with regard to my assessment of these two women’s actions and plays no role whatsoever in my criticism of their actions. The women’s actions alone are what fuel my opinions of their actions.

    Obviously I disagree with your comment about the real bullying being the things you mentioned. I do not live in a black or white world. I live in a world of shades and degrees. So I will admit there are very likely certain degrees of bullying as there are degrees to many things in human existence. However, I do believe the action of these two women in the first three minutes of the video absolutely conform to my and probably many people’s definition of bullying.

    Many children and teens, for example, are seriously bullied in school. However, in most cases death, nor dismemberment, nor a national terror incident ensues as a result. This does not mean these individuals have somehow not been seriously bullied. Their bullying may not seem to be so significant when compared to trans women, for example, who are murdered in so called “gay panic” scenarios or the examples of what you call “real” bullying in your above comment. Yet, this does not erase the fact that a real bullying event has in fact taken place and the effects of bullying are experienced by these individuals.

    Many people have not seen the first three minutes of “The Bernie Sanders incident” and have only seen the portion of the video when the two women have already gotten what they wanted and have significantly toned down both their rhetoric and their behavior. This, BTW, is what bullies often do when they have gotten what they wanted. I am going to include a link to those first 3 minutes here. I don’t know if the link will appear with this platform: http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/social-security-medicare-rally-featuring-sen-berni/nnGDm/

  • Michael Bresnahan

    Hi Sage,

    I went to the link you sent. And I think the bullying you are referring to is the way the women screamed at the moderator. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Not the most pleasant interchange I agree.

    I not sure whether BLM had asked to be able to speak or not. Or if their intent was to take over the meeting to talk about the issues of police terror and murder.

    Which I would fully support.

    Sometimes mistakes are made in strategy and tactics. It happens especially with young activists. Sometimes when confronting powerful institutions tactics can be “rude” or even “wrong”. (Wrong meaning they don’t serve to advance the cause they are fighting for. Or needlessly alienate sections of people who might be won over to their cause. I’m not
    judging here just making a comment.)

    But it is necessary to be “rude” and “confrontational” at times when resisting or opposing oppression.

    I would not call what they did “bullying”. Confrontational ? Yes.

    Needlessly confrontational? Maybe.

    Thanks Sage.

    M

  • Sage Mahosadha

    Hi Michael,

    For me it is more than the screaming although that is definitely a part of it. It is what they are SAYING when they are screaming. It is their demeanor. It is their way of approach. It is almost the entire though not the entire way they interact with the moderator. We can’t hear what the one woman said that got this response from Bernie Sanders…”Well if that is your attitude there is nothing more I can say” (that is a paraphrase). All I can say is that I’ve been bullied A LOT in this life both as a kid and also from being same gender loving and I’ve also been bullied as a black man, often by law enforcement, with the worst offenses being from white, female officers. Anyway, because I have been bullied so much I simply know what bullying is. It really is pretty much that simple. I don’t need you to agree with me and I’m also not going to change my opinion.

    I am a sacred activist. Our goals and objectives are somewhat different from activists who are not sacred activists.

    I could literally write a book about all the reasons I am opposed to how these women behaved. I understand the context in which their behavior took place. I understand it all. And still my opinion is the same. And perhaps I will at some point write that book. In that book, should it materialize, I will address everything you have mentioned (mistakes happen, the differences between “confrontation” and “bullying,” what is the role of being “rude,” etc) as well as things many others have said in pushing back against my position. .

    And further, when one places him or herself on the world stage one also subjects oneself to the court of public opinion. I am part of that court of public opinion and I reject these two women’s behavior as viable and helpful in the overall scheme of things. Plus I believe it is bullying and I believe bullying to be a form of violence. You and other people on this thread or also part of the court of public opinion and have differing opinions.

    Bottom line—I believe we can and must do better than how these women acted in order to create a better world where cooperation will have to play an extremely important role.

  • Michael Bresnahan

    Again Sage thank you for your very articulate and honest reply. You have me doing some deep thinking. Which is always a good thing.

    I understand and empathize with where you are coming from.

    I agree we have to do better.

    I am a sacred activist of sorts. I think humanity is sacred and that it is important that we don’t become the evil we are fighting. Not an easy task I’m afraid.

    Identity politics can be very limiting.

    I have moved way beyond that even while acknowledging the specific oppression groups face. We need to end all oppression not seek to “own it” in my opinion.

    Well Sage please write that book. I’ll want to read it for sure.

    I’m dreaming and fighting for a new world where dissenting voices are valued and encouraged.

    Keep on keeping on my brother.

    M

  • Sage Mahosadha

    Hi There Michael,

    Thank you for your healing and inspiring words. It has truly been a pleasure communicating with you here. It has also been very refreshing. So often I have found in settings such as these, when there is not total agreement around issues such as we have been discussing, things seem to so easily and so often devolve into massive use of logical fallacies, personal attacks, unhinged vitriol, subtle though present expressions of narcissism, and a general lack of basic respect for self and others. I am so happy that has not happened here. THANK YOU, Michael. Be Well.

  • Michael Bresnahan

    Thanks Sage. I’ve been trying to practice “Right Speech”. Not always easy for me . I have that Irish temper at times.

    But reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “Anger” many times has really helped me manage mine. And the 14 Mindfulness Trainings has also helped me in many surprising ways.

    I asked a friend what I could do to be a better person. She said “think twice before you say things”.

    I’m now trying to think “three times”.

    The old labeling and sectarianism stinks. Been there -done that.

    It happens to me when I tell people I stringy embrace much of the RCP’s line.

    They think I’m a party drone or something.

    I’m a free thinker and free spirit. When I tell people I’m a “Buddhist – Maoist” they think I’m joking. Well I am but not
    entirely. I can see the contradiction. And smile about it. I live with this contradiction. And don’t deny it.

    In my mind I’m a much better person for it. And I also bring my Buddhist practice to my friends in the RCP who respect
    my intentions and practice. Go figure…

    I can tell you are too.

    Thank You Sage for your kind comments. I really appreciate them and wil, spread the Good Karma.

  • Michael Bresnahan

    Clarification Sage: I can tell you are a free thinker and free spirit. (Not a Buddhist – Maoist :) )

    Typo: Strongly embrace most of RCP line.

  • bezi

    Nathan: thanks for bringing up the White Supremacy thread of a couple years back – I was recalling that as I read this too. What’s different – and I suspect this is all I can really add of value to the convo at this point – is that there was, as I remember, WAY more reactionary anger, disagreement and flat out racist troll-baiting occurring on that thread. This time there appears to be a pretty fundamental solidarity with the opinions expressed. That alone should tell us something powerful and encouraging…

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