On Independence Day, Black militias arise in the United States…As we have been reading about in Black Against Empire, it’s when Black people arm themselves that they get taken seriously by the white establishment…White liberals, of course, begin to get uncomfortable…
I am just starting in on this fascinating text, a thoroughgoing academic analysis of the Black Panther Movement, situated in its cultural context. I’ll be posting quotes and thoughts as I go, and I welcome anyone else to read along with me. The Black Panther Party was formed in a cultural and political milieu in which the Civil Rights Movement had come up to its limits. Whites would only allow so much. And police brutality was relentless and cruel.
Sharing a podcast link to a sermon, The Great Unmasking, from a famous white evangelical pastor preaching some Gospel, talking about social justice in our current context, preaching from the prophets and discussing things like defunding police. It’s Rob Bell, which to be fair, I’m not sure he’s actually an evangelical….He was booted out of his evangelical church years back, circa 2012.
It’s my birthday today. I took the day off of work, and I also took a day off from closely monitoring the news, setting out for a hike. It was a wonderful and refreshing hike, up Fireweed Mountain just down the road from my cabin. The weather is beautiful, the sun is shining on us in this magnificent valley, making it feel like a cathedral, surrounded as it is by grand mountains, roaring rivers, and a massive glacial field. But the news cycle caught up with me, and I write this with tears running down my face. It may feel like a cathedral here but there is no sanctuary, no place of escape from the violent karma that is currently raging in our streets. But for many Americans there has never been an escape from police violence.
It’s a perfect storm: our institutions are failing; voters are disenfranchised; our government is dysfunctional; our political system is purely partisan; our economy is working exclusively for the already-powerful; the U.S. healthcare system is a disaster designed by and functioning on behalf of the 1%; and most of our citizens access news and information from bubbles of confirmation bias, many of whom do so with a good deal of malice, frustration, and anger…..Still, of course, one hopes that perhaps the summer heat will prevent another spike in outbreaks and deaths, this despite the fact that the numbers have been climbing, even during the “grand re-opening of America”…..I have my figurative fingers crossed….
One thing I’ve been discussing with the comrades is a new political party. The Bernie Sanders left is now extremely well-networked and mobilized. This all goes back ten years or so, to the Occupy Wall Street movement. But the Sanders policies have been firmly rejected by the Democrat Party. So….What’s next?
It was August of 2010. I saw the lights of Anchorage from the seat of my plane as we prepared for landing at Ted Stevens International Airport. My family had lived in Anchorage for a few years when I was very young but at age 32, this was my first time back in Alaska, as an adult.
This trip had begun in my imagination, about a year before, as I walked around the Indianapolis Zoo. I was fascinated by a placard about grizzly bears, located nearby to a rather sad looking, caged Griz. The placard told of how a woman was attacked by a grizzly bear, in the city of Anchorage no less, while out for a jog in the park. For some reason that resonated with me. It wasn’t a sadistic thing, I don’t take pleasure in the suffering of joggers. I was just completely enchanted by the idea of a state like Alaska, where bears and moose made their presence felt, even in the biggest of cities.
It was strange, that moment, but I felt a strong intuition, that this State was home. Reading the placard aroused a desire to live in a place where wilderness is the norm and civilization is the exception. In many ways, this desire summarized my decade. I was landing in Anchorage, soon to be flying to Kodiak, heading into the wild, in ways both literal and metaphorical.
For me, 2019 brought a big shift. In the fall of 2018 I knew that I needed to make a change. I had resigned my management position at McCarthy Lodge, at the end of the summer season, but it wasn’t quite clear what I should do next. Should I look for another seasonal summer Alaskan gig? Or should I look to do something else entirely? Was I going to continue to live my nomadic lifestyle, spending summers in Alaska and winters in California? To complicate matters, my health had suddenly taken a bad turn, back in the fall of 2018, and problems in my gut had led to me losing a great deal of weight (which was alarming because I’m already a skinny dude). I was feeling extremely low energy, to the point where a simple, short walk just about did me in for the day. At that point, all options were on the table.
“We may have suspected it already, but now the science backs it up: unmarried and childless women are the happiest subgroup in the population. And they are more likely to live longer than their married and child-rearing peers, according to a leading expert in happiness….the latest evidence showed that the traditional markers used to measure success did not correlate with happiness – particularly marriage and raising children.”
I’m slowly working my way north in my subcompact Fiat 500, which I converted into a little camper car, of sorts. I stripped it down to the bare bones, took out all the seats with the exception of the drivers seat (which I admit to giving consideration, however short-lived, to the idea of taking it out as well), and I stuffed it full of stuff with just enough room for a sleeping area where I can stretch out long-ways on the side of the car that formerly housed the passenger-side seat.
It seems a bit… what’s the word?…Cheeky. It seems a bit cheeky to put anti-Facebook ads up on Facebook, but that’s precisely what Elizabeth Warren did. Predictably, Facebook took the ads down. In the ads Warren called for the break-up of tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Facebook, all of which Warren is calling out.
I really respect what Warren has been doing in the early phases of the 2020 campaign. She’s come out swinging, challenging the domination of corporations with an intense and uncompromising sense of urgency, which is precisely what we needed if we hope to even make a dent in the corruption that both parties have made normative in America. Here’s more from the article:
“Capitalism is an ideology of capital – the most important thing is the concentration of capital and to seek and maximize profit,” she said during an interview at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, according to Bloomberg News.
“To me, capitalism is irredeemable,” she added, arguing that capitalism’s goals come at a cost to people and the environment, Bloomberg reported.