n Lives We Might Live

août 28, 2006

Destination Unknown

Rancid played 4 nights of sold-out shows at BB Kings on 42nd Street in New York City. Here is a review of Saturday night's show.

Before Rancid came on the crowd was jumpy with anticipation as the house lights in the theatre went out. We were standing in the dark shouting “Rancid! Rancid!” and images began to show on two screens on either side of the stage. The images were old pictures from the ‘60s and ‘70s of police in full riot gear. The images quickly shifted from lines of police looking like a futuristic 1984 military to images of the police beating people. Just as quickly the images shifted to images of the people fighting back against the police: images of people throwing bricks, running, wearing masks, and swinging at the police in Detroit and California.

Suddenly the stage lights came on and Rancid was there! Tim swaggered over the audience slightly elevated above the other members of the band. Before the audience could applaud Rancid jumped into Roots, Radicals, "Where do you go now when you're only 15? When the music execution and the talk of revolution bleeds in me. Give ‘em the boot, the roots the radicals. Give ‘em the boot, you know I’m a radical. Give ‘em the boot, the roots the reggae on my stereo."

The few hundred people around me went fucking crazy: empty beer cups, bottles full of water and people flew in the air, a guy fell on the ground like a sack of bricks to my left, and the pace of my heart sped up and beat along with the music as I struggled to stay on my feet in the pit.

There was much more in the air and up for grabs than in a normal mosh pit. I felt like people were ready to fight for something. Rancid played lots of old songs and the images on the screen conveyed death, destruction, and the photos were interspersed with Rancid logos: lots of skulls and dogs. The set ended with Ruby Soho and as Tim, Lars, and Matt sang "destination unknown" the screens to their left and right flashed with black and white pictures of buildings and entire cities in rubble. The ominous possibility of an unknown future in an environment of destruction and neighborhoods in need of rebuilding was palpable. The fight that led to the devistation is the fight we saw at the beginning of the show: it is a fight between the people and the state and it is happening right now between the Bush Regime and the people in this country. It might not seem like a battle in the streets and for the streets but it is a much more serious than any of the pictures could illustrate. Who will win this battle that we are in is unknown and the future is up for grabs. I felt like myself and the other youth at the show were ready to take it.

juin 22, 2006

The Depth of Rebel Style

I wrote this in response to an article a friend posted on his blog. The article is by Colin Kennedy Donovan and Qwo-Li Driskill and it is pasted below with a link to their site.

The Depth of Rebel Style by Araby Carlier

Colin Kennedy Donovan and Qwo-Li Driskill’s article is wrong because it assumes culture exists in a narrow vacuum and it advocates a stifling and policing of cultural exchanges when we should be fighting larger battles.

People throw around appropriation way to easily when criticizing all different forms of culture. Music, art, language, slang, religion, and on and on develop with increasing international influence. Our generation and the ones sandwiching us are constantly confronted with new information and cultural norms that were never available to previous generations. Largely, youth around the world have eagerly embraced our ever-expanding ability to learn about each other and communicate (myspace is a major vehicle for this).

In the midst of cultures being slammed together there is assimilation and it is not always a negative thing. Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel) wrote about how cultures are constantly exchanging both horizontally and vertically and they must assimilate and make way for new things. Cultures that do not adapt and assimilate will die out. This predates capitalism. Capitalism and it’s most advanced form, imperialism, are the culprits of forced assimilation and genocide.

Forced assimilation is negative and I’m not making an argument for imposing cultural norms by force or coercion. And it is true that there is and has been a dominating culture in the United States that ruled people’s lives first with missionaries coming across the water to slaughter and plunder native people with the Bible in one hand and the gun in the other and has morphed over centuries to become so deeply ingrained in every aspect of our lives, public and private.

But what do we and countless youth before us do under the shadow and weight of such a bloody history and a tumultuous present? We rebel and create ways of relating to each other that reflect the beauty of cultures in the past to craft how we want to live now and into the future.

Punk rock is such a fantastic example. I have no clue as to who rocked the first mohawk in the punk scene but spiking hair so it stood straight up definitely pre-dates Scorsese’s 1976 movie Taxi Driver. Check out any of Don Lett’s (DJ from the Roxy) movies like Punk: Attitude or Westway to the World for how the punk movement in the UK was heavily influenced and embraced the cultural resistance and outright rebellions of Caribbean immigrants around the UK. White youth were engaging these issues and some of them might have never known if they hadn’t picked up a Clash or a Slits record. Later Blondie, The Clash, Talking Heads collaborated with hip hop artists and “Magnificent 7” was blaring out of windows in the Bronx.

A kid with a mohawk does not represent genocide and theft of cultural practices of native people. A kid with a mohawk represents rebellion and defiance – both good things we need more of on our streets. I would much rather run into a kid with a mohawk at a show than a fucking skinhead – here is an example of a downright reactionary and fucked up personal statement and style that has to go. Not mohawks. While colonizers viewed many practices of native people’s cultures as barbaric and something to be eradicated, youth of all ethnicities are embracing these practices with curiosity, respect, and yes rebellion to the dominant and oppressive status quo I mentioned above. There is a MAJOR difference.

People get caught up in dissecting tattoos, mendhi, piercings, dreadlocks, etc when really what should be tackled is the racism itself. The US government has dumped a ton of bombs on Iraq, killing between 50-100,000 and people in this country can’t say they don’t know that Iraqi’s have been and are tortured by the US military and its cohorts – and they can’t say they don’t know that Iraqi civilians are being systematically murdered in massacres like Haditha. Thousands of Black people were left to DIE last fall in New Orleans, hundreds of people have been killed crossing the border, the entire continent of Africa is being ravaged by HIV/AIDS, the list goes on. I’m not saying this to preach to the choir because you and I and the writers of this article are clearly not in the same choir on this question – but these are the things to fight mad and fight strong. If these things are not eradicated and stopped than there will be no hope of ever eliminating the uneven horizontal cultural exchanges that exist. Our real enemy is the US government that is perpetuating these genocidal moves against people here and around the world.

Let’s start with confronting the oppression and racism where it is going down all around us – where it is life and death, not where it’s hairstyle.

What are you talking about?
Why should I cut my dreads?
Whats wrong with a Mohawk?

Answers for white people on appropriation, hair and anti-racist struggle.
An Article by Colin Kennedy Donovan and Qwo-Li Driskill

A Few Good Reasons Why White PeopleShould Not Wear Mohawks or Dreadlocks:

Mohawk is the name of a sovereign First Nation in the Iroquois Confederacy. Wearing Mohawks erases Mohawk people and culture.

Dreadlocks are a symbol of Black/African pride and resistance to white supremacist beauty standards and are rooted in Black/African struggles for survival and liberation.

Dreadlocks are rooted in Rastafarianism, a pan-African spiritual/religious movement for healing and decolonization for Africa and African people worldwide. Rastafarianism is a form of resistance to a history of white racism, slavery, colonization and genocide.

The traditions of people of color/non-white people are still under attack across the planet. Appropriating our traditions and ways of dressing/presenting is a further attack on our communities.

Wearing Mohawks or dreadlocks plays into a racist society that believes people of color and our lands, bodies, cultures and spirits are up for grabs.

Mohawks were popularized in Britain and North America because of the film The Taxi Driver.

Appropriating other cultures means you neglect looking at your own ethnic roots and traditions.

By wearing Mohawks and dreadlocks, white people demonstrate they are unaware of anti-racist struggles and deteriorate trust between white and people of color/non-white people.

Being an anti-racist white person is counter-culture. Trying to present a counter-cultural image by appropriating other cultures is not. The hairstyle called Mohawks is rooted in distinct Iroquois and other First Nations/Native traditions that have only recently (1978) been legal in the United States. Non-native people who wear Mohawks appear naïve and condescending to this reality. By cutting off their Mohawks and dreadlocks, white people take a concrete step towards an anti-racist journey.

Created by Qwo-Li Driskill and Colin Kennedy Donovan for Planting Seeds Community Awareness Project. www.pscap.org

The struggle against racism is more than just not saying racist comments or knowing that the United States was built by slave labor. It is also a struggle to recognize and understand the ways racism/white supremacy are woven into every aspect of life.One of the ways racism plays out which is often ignored or not seen by white people is through appropriation, the act of taking or making use of without authority or right. Appropriation ignores the lives and struggles of oppressed communities, and instead takes what is seen as interesting, useful or beautiful, disregarding our cultures and lives. In the US and other countries, appropriation is part of long histories of racism and genocide. Colonial governments and peoples appropriated the homelands of First Nations/Native people. Europeans appropriated the bodies and labor of African peoples during slavery. While our bodies, homelands and labor continue to be appropriated, so do our cultural symbols/lifeways. The New Age movement, for example, appropriates (and twists) the spiritual practices of First Nations, Asian, African and other cultures. Among progressive/radical white people, the problem of appropriation continues to damage communities of color. Mohawks and dreadlocks worn by non-Native/non-African people is one form of appropriation that often goes unnoticed and unchallenged and is often misunderstood. Healing the legacy and current reality of racism and colonization means looking closely at the ways we perpetuate these forms of violence. It means, in part, letting go of cultural symbols that are appropriated from people of color/non-white people and instead looking deeply at the complex issues that surround race and racism.

juin 01, 2006

Forever PregnantGuidelines: Treat Nearly All Women as Pre-Pregnant

click the title to link to the full article sans my raw rage.
By January W. PayneWashington Post Staff WriterTuesday, May 16, 2006
New federal guidelines ask all females capable of conceiving a baby to treat themselves -- and to be treated by the health care system -- as pre-pregnant, regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant anytime soon.
Among other things, this means all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control.
While most of these recommendations are well known to women who are pregnant or seeking to get pregnant, experts say it's important that women follow this advice throughout their reproductive lives, because about half of pregnancies are unplanned and so much damage can be done to a fetus between conception and the time the pregnancy is confirmed.
what about the damage to girls and women when confronted with an unplanned pregnancy?
The recommendations aim to "increase public awareness of the importance of preconception health" and emphasize the "importance of managing risk factors prior to pregnancy," said Samuel Posner, co-author of the guidelines and associate director for science in the division of reproductive health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued the report.
"preconception health" is code for "women and girls are incubators first" and human beings with minds, decisions, dreams, and obstacles second.
The U.S. infant mortality rate is higher than those of most other industrialized nations -- it's three times that of Japan and 2.5 times those of Norway, Finland and Iceland, according to a report released last week by Save the Children, an advocacy group.
infant mortality is higher bc more people live in poverty in the US than in any of those nations, and where our healthcare system is functioning for people it totally sucks.
Preconception care should be delivered by any doctor a patient sees -- from her primary care physician to her gynecologist. It involves developing a "reproductive health plan" that details if and when children are planned, said Janis Biermann, a report co-author and vice president for education and health promotion at the March of Dimes.
oh fuck you march of dimes.
Women should also make sure all vaccinations are up-to-date and avoid contact with lead-based paints and cat feces, Biermann said.
new law - girls and women can't have cats.
The NCHS data also reflect these disparities. Babies born to black mothers, for example, had the highest rate of infant death -- 13.5 per 1,000 live births. Infants born to white women had a death rate of 5.7 per 1,000.
katrina? aids in africa? the entire history of this country? there is a genocidal program against black people in the united states and the bush regime is pushing it to its limits.
"We know that women -- unless you're actively planning [a pregnancy], . . . she doesn't want to talk about it," Biermann said. So clinicians must find a "way to do this and not scare women," by promoting preconception care as part of standard women's health care, she said.
i don't want to talk about it bc i'm NOT FUCKING PREGNANT yet or thinking about being pregnant!
what is more deeply disturbing than anything in this article is that these new federal guidelines are pushing women way way way far into a corner where we are nothing but incubators. these guidelines destroy any notion that we are independent human beings capable of making decisions about our lives and consciously living with those decisions.

mai 20, 2006

Fuck South Dakota

click the title above to link to the entire rant. here is a prime snippet:

Don’t even try and play this off like it’s just a bunch of prairie extremists who are pushing this radical agenda. It’s just that South Dakota’s legislature is willing to admit what the pro-life movement is really after: forced pregnancy. And they’re not the only dicks who want their chicks barefoot and knocked up – assholes in at least ten other states are preparing turn a procedure that more than a third of American women get at some point during their lives into a fucking felony.

mai 16, 2006

Recycle Beer Bottles

I haven’t written in a minute and that is about to change. I feel like an absentee parent .. "really kids, it's all gonna change." But seriously, get ready. It’s on now.

I’m reading One with Nineveh: Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future by Paul and Anne Ehrlich. The Ehrlich’s became an academic household name years ago with The Population Bomb, which details how people will eventually overpopulate the planet, reaching roughly 6 billion by 2000, a number unimaginable in the 1960’s when the Ehrlich’s unveiled their work.

Constantly reading fiction has me stuttering in awe when I read a book of facts. I repeat them to anyone who will listen at a given moment with a “can you believe?” tone of wonder. I am amazed by the impact of 16,000 years of human population on the planet.

Ehrlich writes that the “eco-footprint of the average American is roughly four times the human average, and as much as ten times larger than those of the citizens of very poor countries such as Bangladesh and Chad” (69).

As children we learned that individuals must do their share to reduce our own eco-footprint: reduce, reuse, recycle. Did a generation of Americans raised with pro-environmentally altered habits lessen the damage this country has done to the world? No way.

Before I get a slew of email reprimanding me for dissing recycling let’s think about how the rest of the world is increasing their consumption in the pattern of the dominant empire that is the United States. I wouldn’t say the U.S. influences people around the world to adopt lifestyles of consumption, but it inflicts these lifestyles on people.

The necessity and consumption people engage is directly related to the capitalist economies dominated by the U.S. – think of all the America products that are international. And more than the cigarettes and fast food that destroys people’s health, but the patenting of seeds that reduce the nutritional value of food to the shantytowns built alongside factories forcing people to desert their rural homes and lives, oftentimes after a dam or other agribusiness came along first and forced the people out.

The poorest people on the planet are worse off now than some of the earliest human inhabitants on earth.

novembre 21, 2005

Jesus Land

I just read Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres. I'm not going to "reveal the story" but in a nutshell Jesus land is a memoir of a young woman raised by Calvinist fundamentalists in rural Indiana. The memoir is set around Julia and her adopted brother David who is the same age (they idolize Bobby and Cindy Brady) during their last couple years of high school.

Julia and David are not Bobby and Cindy. David was adopted when Julia's parents were basically guilted into adopting a Black child from foster care when they went to the orphanage with the intentions of adopting a white baby. Delighted for their own personal chance to be missionaries in their own home Dr. and Mrs. Scheeres set to civilizing David and Jerome (they eventually adopt Jerome, a slightly older Black child - so David can have "one of his kind"). They bring salvation to these two children in the form of constant mental and physical abuse while their biological white children are spared a bulk of the pain and humiliation.

Part of what drives this memoir is the abuse Julia and especially David experience. But Jesus Land is not a page turner in a gory, tv-movie-of-the-week kind of way. Julia expertly spins her parents fundamentalist values into the memoir portraying them as real-life modern day missionaries who colonize and enslave their adopted Black children so that their souls might be saved. Julia's and David experience is parallel to that of missionaries with the Bible in one hand and a rifle in the other.

What will pull you through this book is (and I won't ruin the ending) but it is, essentially Julia's letter to David. The memoir is definitely written from Julia's distinct perspective but throughout everything what shines through is her committment to David, and trust me Julia and David's relationship is far from perfect, but they are amazing together.

novembre 02, 2005

From Harold Pinter, Nobel Prize Winning Playwright

"The Bush Administration is the most dangerous force that has ever existed. It is more dangerous than Nazi Germany because of the range and depth of its activities and intentions worldwide. I give my full support to the Call to Drive out the Bush Regime."
Harold Pinter 10.31.05

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