RIP Thomas M. Menino, former mayor of Boston

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He was a politician. I won’t say that he was any better or any worse than any other politician, but the fact is that he was a politician. Let’s not make any human being into something they’re not after they die. Let’s mourn the loss of a fellow human being to an awful disease, but let’s not put on rose colored glasses and pretend in death that the mayor was radically different than any other politician in life. Sure, he accomplished some positive things, but when you wear Cesar’s clothes, you have to behave like Cesar. My most vivid memory of him was when he imposed a curfew and said he would “not tolerate civil disobedience in the City of Boston”, which ironically, is the birthplace of civil disobedience. When you act to curtail freedom of speech, when you act to silence peaceful, truth and justice seeking, law abiding citizens of your City, and instead stand up to protect banks and corporations, when you oversee a generation of rapidly expanding gentrification, when you oversee the militarization of your civilian police department…your death deserves to be mourned the same as that of any other human being, but certainly not more so. Why should we mourn your death any more than we would a homeless, drug-addicted Vietnam veteran? Or the death of any Bostonian, cold, alone and forsaken, forgotten by City Hall, forgotten by their neighbors? The Pru should keep its lights on, or leave them off to draw attention to the heroin epidemic that flourished under your reign, the children you failed, the teenagers you failed, the adults you failed, the elderly you failed, the city that ultimately, you failed. You can’t be successful when you run a community of human beings the same way you would run a business, at least not successful where it counts. You were good for banks and businesses, but you failed the least of your people.

All that said, he certainly could have been worse, and that sadly seems to be the best way to gauge politicians. “At least he wasn’t as bad as he could have been.” The city deserved better, and deserves better, “but at least he wasn’t as bad as he could have been.”

Rest in Peace, Mayor Thomas Michael Menino

“I sympathize with their issues, some of those issues we really have to look at in America, but when it comes to civil disobedience, I will not tolerate civil disobedience in the city of Boston.” October 11, 2011

Music is the revolution. (Can you skip one cup of coffee?)

I’m taking part once again in the amazing annual Halloween 5k/benefit, this coming weekend in Northampton. If you can drink one less cup of coffee tomorrow, i ask that you consider donating the cost of that cup to Calling All Crows. Whether a $2 large regular coffee, or $5 iced mocha latte, I promise you that helping Calling All Crows, regardless of the amount, is money well spent. Whatever you can donate, I PROMISE TO MATCH IT! And if you can skip that Latte tomorrow and donate $5, I will buy you a drink of equal or greater value the next time we see each other. Even if you’re broke and can’t make a donation, what’s more important to me is if you go to CallingAllCrows.org and check out their amazing work, listen to some of the talented and inspirational musicians involved with the organization, and if you agree with me that music can help change the world, please share the link, or tell your music-loving friends to check out CallingAllCrows.org.

In the past, I’ve helped raise $1,319 in support of Calling All Crows mission aiding and empowering women, and other oppressed groups around the globe. From providing energy efficient cooking stoves to women in Sudan, (it’s more important than you think) to shelter and services for Afghan women, (the 2011 benefit raised enough to provide shelter and vital services to 100 women in Afghanistan…which is huge) to fighting for marriage equality, to fighting to abolish the death penalty, to organizing community service projects before concerts, and getting todays youth engaged in social justice issues of all sorts, Calling All Crows is helping people BE THE CHANGE they wish to see in the world. The music, but most importantly the mission, is so inspirational. We all have to step up to the plate, in our communities, and around the world…we might as well have a great soundtrack.

Calling All Crows is a 501c3 non-profit started by Boston- area human rights activists/advocates in the independent music business, who have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place, and are using the platform music provides to do just that.They are helping bring fans around the country, and world, into the fight for equality and justice around the globe. There are a lot of great organizations in the world, but I know the folks who started Calling All Crows, and know that they live and breathe this work, they believe in it 100%, and have dedicated their lives to changing the world. This cause is extremely important to me, I put my money where my mouth is and donate as much as I can, when I can. The folks associated with Calling All Crows continue to inspire me and countless others, through their words, music, and above all ACTIONS.

No matter where you live on planet earth, what language you speak, how wealthy or poor you are, music has more than likely touched your life in some way, shape or form. Some kids get a brand new guitar and years of lessons, some get one made from an old oil can and learn from trial and error and from watching others play. Some kids get a brand new set of drums, while some bang on pots, pans, jugs, trash cans, and anything else they can find. Some sing in fancy choirs in front of people in suits and dresses at Carnegie Hall, some harmonize with family and friends around a campfire, and dance by the light of the moon. Some play their songs for sold out stadiums, some for crowded pubs, some for folks waiting to board the 6-train at 3am. Some of us just listen and enjoy…Some of us can’t carry a tune in a bucket, and others can carry their band-mates to amazing places. Some play for money, some play for love, some play for their ancestors, some play for themselves, some play because it’s the only way they know how to communicate. Some people sing songs of joy, some sing songs of mourning and loss and longing, of freedom and justice, of love and life, of family and community, some sing songs to heal themselves, some to heal their loved ones, some to heal the world. The best experiences I’ve had in life have involved music, and I have come to see that it is the only truly universal language, regardless of what tongue you sing in. A happy song in Boston is a happy song in Belfast, is a happy song in Baghdad, is a happy song in Bethlehem, is a happy song in Beijing, is a happy song in Baton Rouge, is a happy song in Bogota, is a happy song in Belgrade, is a happy on in Beirut…music connects us. I think back to the accordion player on the boardwalk in Tiberius, on the Sea of Galilee, a fat old mustachioed man singing and dancing and brightening up the night with his music. We stopped and listened, and couldn’t help but dance, and laugh, and smile. Or the tall Rabbi in the woods of Montana, strumming on his ukelele, singing songs of peace and love. On one of the last nights of the 2013 Rainbow Gathering, he played until the sun came up and only a couple of us remained and the fire slowly burned itself out. Or other nights there, around a much larger fire, without inhibitions, hundreds of people dancing around the huge bonfire as dozens of men and women pounded on drums from dusk until dawn, relentlessly enticing us to dance the way our ancestors danced before they forgot how to. From the mountains of Afghanistan, to the valleys of Hawaii, music has played a crucial roll in helping create, and maintain communities around the world…in the truest sense of the word “community”. It’s how stories are told, memories are kept alive, and loved ones are honored. There are countless ‘difference’ that society is quick to point out between folks in one geographical location on this small planet in this small galaxy, in this infinite universe…but when you see folks dancing at a wedding in Iraq, or in Hawaii, or in the USA, or in Cameroon, or in Cambodia, or in Iran, or in Cuba, or Poland, or Egypt, or anywhere else…you understand that we are all the same. We all experience joy, all experience pain, all are capable of loving humanity. Music and dance is the language our ancestors carried out of the garden back in the day, and spread to every corner of the planet. I truly feel that MUSIC may be humanity’s best chance of survival… the best chance to recreate the communities of old, to show the world that we are all one, all the same. I see Calling All Crows as a huge step in that direction. Using music a vehicle of inspiration and change, bringing fans and musicians together to help improve the world. None of us choose when we are born, where we are born, to whom we are born, or even to be born…it just happens. The only thing separating you and someone just like you in Afghanistan is the butterfly effect of history. We had no control over being born in the worlds largest empire, just as much as people have no control over being born into the worlds most impoverished, exploited, and war-torn countries. Music can connect the world, and make it a more humane place…Calling All Crows is helping make that happen!
Peace, Love & Justice,

-J

https://www.classy.org/fundraise?fcid=362121

Family

On September 11th, 2001 most, if not all of us here in America, even if not directly impacted by the terrorist attack, were able to empathize. We collectively shared in their pain and suffering. We wept at candle light vigils. We held hands with and hugged strangers, because for a moment strangers we no longer strangers, they became family, and we were mourning the deaths of family members. When I looked at the TV and saw video of human beings jumping out of a building to escape burning alive, I saw my parents. I saw my family. I genuinely ached. Those were real, very human emotions and feelings. The way we felt is, I believe, human nature. By human nature, we would all empathetic care for ALL victims of war/terror, and we would rather die ourselves than have anyone else die, regardless of ‘race, color, or creed’. But our tears were hijacked and used as a justification for war. Violence begets violence. Terrorism begets terrorism. War begets war. Retired military generals beat war drums on all the news networks, but failed to disclose their military industry-filled stock portfolios. Our mourning was manipulated and turned into rabid cries for revenge. As if watching “other” people die and suffer would somehow make our psychological wounds heal, and that thinking leads to a never ending cycle of death and more death. The higher-ups in the ‘news’ business understand the human mind extremely well, they have studied it and mastered what it takes to get us to think a certain way, to feel a certain way, to buy a certain product,…to love and respect the lives of a certain group over another certain group. If you were able to see family when you looked at the violent, horrific images from September 11, 2001 why can’t you see the same when you read about or see pictures of what has come to be known as ‘collateral damage’… non-American innocent civilians killed. Are we really that nationalistic? Is that really what ‘patriotism’ looks like? (other than the fact there are few cameras pointing at innocent civilians in other countries)

I challenge you to think of your family the next time you hear about the wrong house being blown up “killing 10 civilians, including 6 children”. Think of your mother. Think of your siblings. Think of your own children. Think of how you felt, as singer Alan Jackson put it in a country music song, “on that September day”. Terrorism in any incarnation is inhumane and despicable, but what is indiscriminately killing innocent civilians, blowing up sewage treatment plants, crippling power grids,…if not ‘terrorism’? The death of ONE innocent civilian offsets the value of any justice that potentially comes from killing the people responsible. Borders are imaginary lines, we have been socialized to see differences in people from one geographical location on planet earth, and another. Beyond this, many of us have also been socialized (trained/programmed) ascribe different values to the lives of those within our own communities. We react differently when we hear about a 15 year old white kid in Longmeadow being killed by a peer, than to a 15 year old black kid from Springfield. We don’t try to come up with excuses and explanations as to how and why the 15 year old white kid could have been killed. It is a tragedy, and it is understood as such. Even if the 15 year old white kid was killed in a dispute over drugs, it is viewed as a tragedy, is is portrayed in the best light possible, and the mayor probably says a few words at his funeral about how ‘we are failing our children, we have to do better’. The deaths of black men have been so normalized in our society, and black people never re-humanized after slavery, society simply shrugs at the news of a 15 year old black kid being killed, if we do anything at all. When people a few miles away, or even a few blocks away, are still so dehumanized that their deaths are written off as ‘sad, but inevitable’…if we can’t even see a black family living next door as family, see our own mother when we look into the eyes of their mother… what does that say for mothers in Pakistan being ‘accidentally’ killed by drones. Mothers in Afghanistan? Iraq? Yemen? Somalia? When the black kid next door is expendable, that does not bode well for the 15 year old kid in Pakistan who not only doesn’t look like someone we’re supposed to care about, but strike two against him is he prays to the wrong version of a monotheistic god, and strike 3 is that he did nothing to stop the attacks of September 11, 2001. When in reality, the people we have been basically indiscriminately killing for the past 13 years (far longer, but lets just discuss recent history)…these people are NO FUCKING DIFFERENT THAN THE PEOPLE KILLED ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001. They are HUMAN BEINGS. Selfishly, you should care about them because if we all care about one another the same as we do our friends and family…maybe one day when America is no longer a powerful empire, and ‘we’ have been dehumanized into ‘them’…maybe, there will be enough folks who care about us, enough folks who see us as family, to prevent our slaughter at the hands of a new empire. Let’s reassess why why we view the death of one innocent civilian by beheading as violent, aggressive, barbaric, inhumane… and the deaths of a dozen innocent civilians by a drone. I would rather have my head cut off than be killed by a remote-controlled robot. However misguided, inhumane, and evil, the man killing you with the knife can see the blood on his own hands afterward. He hears you plead for your life, and sees your chest rise and fall for the last time before he kills you. The result is exactly the same, though you can kill more than one at a time with a drone. The difference is that it’s far less personal, it is disturbingly sanitized, it is accepted. Saying ‘we didn’t mean it’ makes it better. Though we certainly do mean it. During World War One, the ratio of civilian to soldier deaths was 1 out of every 10. For every one civilian killed, there were 9 soldiers killed. Over the next century the numbers reversed. Today, it’s 9 civilians for every one soldier. Over 90% of those killed in war are innocent civilians. 10 % during World War One was too much, never mind 90 %. We don’t care about the deaths of the civilians, we barely pretend to care anymore about the deaths of the soldiers, and as a nation we have proved that we don’t give a fuck about the returning veterans, because if we did the veteran suicide epidemic would be the biggest news story in the country every day until things improved. There are nearly two-dozen veterans killing themselves every single day. That is a low estimate, but even using that estimate the equivalent of a new 9/11 happens EVERY 135 days. That means that there are the equivalent of 2.7 9/11’s every year just counting veteran suicides. The equivalent of nearly 30 new 9/11’s since we invaded Afghanistan, just counting veteran suicides. Within a few years of the attack, the death toll of firefighters dying from diseases related to their work in the weeks and months following the attack, surpassed the deaths of firefighters on 9/11. Let’s morn the loss of all innocent life, not only the lives of those we are told to mourn because it is politically convenient, American or otherwise. But since those we deem heroes (veterans and first responders) have been proven to be expendable by the government, and as a society we are socialized not to care, what chance does that mother in Pakistan or Afghanistan or Iraq or anywhere else, have of us seeing our mother when we look into her eyes or hear her story? I challenge you all to care. Gandhi once said “If you cannot see God in the next person you walk by, you need look no further”. He didn’t mean that you have to actually walk past them…he was talking about everyone, including the expendable ‘collateral damage’ we so easily ignore.

Silence the Drums

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(With a few lines from the patriotic WW1 song “Over There” written by George M. Cohan in April 1917. Americans believed at that time that the war would be short and the song reflected that expectation)

Johnny’s out of luck
stuck
next to his
broken down
made-in-America
truck
that’s been running on fumes
for too long,
and there he is
stranded
on the side of the road
and the midnight train
ain’t coming
and he’s left humming
that patriotic tune
trapped inside his head
that no snake-oil
can erase…
“Johnny, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun…”
and he doesn’t want it anymore
but can never give it back
“Hurry right away, no delay, go today…”
But after it’s over
the lines at the VA
are a mile long
and all end with
benumbing psychotropics
“Make your daddy glad to have had such a lad…”
and he can’t stand his family,
and he can’t face his own reflection
“Tell your sweetheart not to pine,
To be proud her boy’s in line…”
and when you no longer love yourself
it gets harder to say
‘I love you’ to someone else
and mean it.
“Hoist the flag and let her fly
Yankee Doodle do or die…”
and he gets sick to his stomach
whenever he sees the flag
because he knows it’s blood-soaked
and used to hide the bodies
“Make your mother proud of you
and the old red white and blue…”
and his mother prays for him
because he lost god
by the rivers of Babylon
“Send the word, send the word over there…”
and he realizes
that everything he learned in life
is bullshit
“That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming
the drums rum-tumming everywhere…”
and he can’t forget
that fucking song
“So prepare, say a prayer,
Send the word, send the word to beware…”
He tries to start running
but he’s ragged,
can’t sleep
with all those war drums
rum-tumming
jagged
tunes
of more war
after war
And it doesn’t matter
Who’s to blame
he’s madder than the hatter
pickled from too many
government pills
a deer in headlights
shoot to kill
and Johnny’s too tired
to fight
and with his last bit of strength
scratch’s his swansong exit
stage left
into the pavement
“We’ll be over, we’re coming over…”
Because someone called the cops
about the crazy guy
on the side of the road
smoke billowing out
of his American-made
truck
and it looks like Johnny got a gun
and he won’t run
and hide,
he’d rather get high
on adrenaline
this one last time
“And we won’t come back
till it’s over,
over there!”
and he wishes
that he never
made it back
to accolades,
handshakes
and free beer
at the VFW
then years of bitter pills
but here he is now
bleeding out by the side of the road
suicide by cop.
Some will call him a coward
but he found no other way
to silence that deafening sound
of new war drums rum-tumming
everywhere…
but it’s fine
in Uncle Sam’s eyes
because new Johnny’s and Jane’s
are born all the time
and grow up learning to sing
age-old patriotic tunes,
going on to make daddy’s glad
and momma’s proud
but if they’re among the lucky
and make it home
according to the VA
Twenty-Two will join Johnny
EVERY SINGLE DAY
To permanently silence
Those fucking rum-tumming
Goddamn drums of war.

flag drapped boxeszz1DSC_2102vets

After Harvest

soitgoes1984:

written this time last year…about how everything good comes to an end. a poem about reflection in autumn…as the leaves change, as the world turns…as a few apples are always left to rot after harvest, but the deer don’t mind.

Originally posted on soitgoes1984:

fall

With the leaves getting all artsy again
before they die
and get raked
and rot
and return to the earth

I cry for springtime
for winter
and for last fall

when in that cool, crisp air
I would break out
the thrift-store flannel
and threadbare watch cap
and we would go pick
honey crisps

and bite into the cool,
crisp knowledge
that forever was within reach

and I’d breathe deep that country air
and that perfect moment,
that time of day

when the sunlight warmly illuminates
the orchard
and the aging farmhouses
and the entire valley.
And you never think it will actually end,
but then it does

and you’re left sitting there
alone
with your thoughts
and your last few cigarettes
and not enough cheap whiskey
to drink her away

as the snow falls on a dreary New England dusk
and the hunted deer feast
on what was left…

View original 13 more words

The simple life of cats

soitgoes1984:

dogs, cats, CNN, war…

Originally posted on soitgoes1984:

November 2008

The cat is in the backyard

he’s climbing up a tree

oh what a simple life

for the cat that it must be.

The dog is in the front yard

he’s chewing on a ball

what a peaceful life it is

that dogs have after all

The bird is in the birdcage

in the bedroom of a house

just singing all day long

to no one special, just a mouse.

The mouse is on the floor right now

he’s eating up some cheese

that’s all the mouse must do in life

whatever he shall please.

The man is watching CNN

and fighting with his wife

the wars go on

more years are gone

and he just hates his life.

The politician practices

not ever what he’s preached

as cities lay in ruin

many promises are breached.

The chaplain speaks of angels

and the peace that’s yet to come

View original 36 more words

Smashing Pumpkins: Drunken Keene State College students riot during Pumpkin Festival.

Sure, it was mostly white folks, but we all know the black guy must have started it…or it’s because the white kids are listening to hip hop, that must be it. Or maybe they’re just over privileged, drunken idiots. I am 100% against the militarization of civilian police forces, but since they ARE militarized…where are the MRAPs and the snipers now? Shouldn’t the illegal excessive force at least be equal throughout the land of the free? (not that the situation is even remotely similar to a protest of any sort). But really, showing up in riot gear is usually the best way to start a riot… and with a lot of these kids feeling invincible because daddy’s lawyer will take care of it should they get arrested, a number of them were probably hoping for a violent reaction from police so they could get their 15 minutes of ‘fame’. Maybe they thought the nation would rally behind them, like we are Ferguson. These idiots can’t handle their alcohol…and they riot?  When black and brown people try to protest the murder of a teenager by the police, it’s called a riot and the militarized cops roll in tanks and SWAT and ALL black and brown people are further villainized, and dehumanized and called thugs and animals, and tear gassed and beaten and arrested and blamed for everything. Black people rise up when one of their children gets shot, white people rise up when they run out of pumpkin spiced beer… or am I missing something here?

Should I not generalize? Is it not fair to demonize all white folks based on whats happening in Keene? I can’t wait for all the excuses, “kids will be kids, they’re just letting off some steam”…”they did it because they were drunk, the blacks do it because they’re prone to violence” blah blah blah. If you want to see a good example of white privilege, just pay attention to some of the coverage of this, watch how it’s framed by the media… “they were drunk, everyone makes mistakes…” “of course not all white people are like that”… or better yet, lack of coverage in the media. The cops showing up and making arrests is appropriate for things like this, NOT for peaceful protests. When the police state arrests you for creating an unsafe environment while you’re violently drunk during a ‘family’ pumpkin festival, IT’S NOT THE SAME AS WHEN THEY BEAT AND ARREST PEACEFUL CITIZENS PROTESTING INJUSTICE, IN VIOLATION OF THEIR RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH AND TO PEACEABLY ASSEMBLE. That said, although these kids are idiots, the police state shouldn’t be able to tear gas them. It shouldn’t be legal for the police state to HAVE tear gas or any of these ‘less than lethal’ toys they have and still manage to turn lethal in the hands of these ‘peace officers’. The first time I got tear gassed was in Hartford before a Dave Matthews Band concert. Granted, it was for drunken idiocy amongst some in the crowd, not protesting…but there is no need for a “civilized” nation to use a chemical weapon on human beings, even drunk ones BUT ESPECIALLY PEACEFUL PROTESTERS. It is possible that the students ARE drunken idiots, and the cops DID use excessive force. It’s not mutually exclusive. When they use this excessive force on drunken college kids, they no longer deserve to be called “peace officers” or “civilian police officers” or described as “serving and protecting” the community…but, when they use this force on non-violent political demonstrations, which has long been the case and I’ve experienced first hand countless times, America no longer deserves to be called a democracy.

What happened in Keene will only galvanize people into supporting militarized police, ‘Well, for things like this they NEED all that gear…’. I’m sorry, but 99.9% of the time it will be used on non-violent protesters standing up against the crown, not on drunken college kids. Don’t let this become the one more justification for the militarization of civilian police… if regular, non-militarized police can’t handle a crowd of drunken college student’s, hire more cops for large events like pumpkin fest. If they still can’t handle it, either cancel pumpkin fest, don’t serve booze, or use some of that unconstitutionally obtained NSA data to figure out where the party is, and break it up before it gets out of hand. We need the 1st (and every other amendment). immature college kids do not need a right to have a huge party. But mark my word, many of these fucks will wind up getting jobs working for corporations destroying the planet, and any negative impact that this ‘riot’ has on the people of NH, will only hurt people peacefully protesting the empire in the future. This is NOT the same as Ferguson, or as Occupy, or as Kent State, or even UC Davis. This is stupid, over privileged, immature, drunk college kids…it’s nothing new. That’s what college is for a lot of these idiots, a time to get black out drunk and act like an idiot. If the Keene police can’t handle drunken college students, like I said- for big events, hire more cops- and if they cant handle it in general, GET NEW COPS WHO CAN HANDLE IT. You’re either a good police officer or not, no flack jacket, M-4 or MRAP will turn them into better police officers. Good cops could have handled this situation WITHOUT excessive force. It’s not about ‘policing’ anymore, it’s about reminding us that we’re subjects of the American empire.

I can’t help but think of Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove who was killed by Boston police by a “non-lethal” beanbag round, while celebrating a Boston Red Sox victory in October 2004, or Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen who was wounded by police during Occupy Oakland after being shot in the head at close range with a tear gas canister and those attempting to administer aid to Scott also targeted by police, or Oscar Grant, shot execution style in the back of the head at Fruitvale Station by a BART police officer who claimed he thought he grabbed his taser rather than his service revolver. Or the countless cases of “non-lethal” weapons, usually tasers, killing undocumented immigrants at the US-Mexico border. Or all the peaceful Palestinian protesters in the West Bank killed by ‘no-lethal’ weapons. Or the Israeli man (and Hampshire College Graduate) I met who lost an eye at a non-violent protest in the West Bank after cops peppered him with a hail of rubber bullets. All of these ‘less than lethal’ or ‘non-lethal’ means of policing all too often turn lethal, and the further militarized civilian police departments become, the more frequent these ‘accidental deaths’ or serious injuries will be. So, shame on the City of Keene for militarizing their police department, and shame on the drunken, idiotic students of Keene State College for acting like assholes and giving the government yet another excuse to beef up the arsenals of local police.

And I’m talking about “non-lethal” or “less-than-lethal” weapons…obviously cops use and abuse their “lethal” weapons far more often. The police shoot and kill black and brown people with the same indifference that the military has for the black and brown people of other countries. Try to imagine for a moment how this would look, how it would be portrayed by the media, and how the police state would have responded if this pumpkin fest was in a predominantly black or Latino community. Just imagine: the same exact thing that happened at Keene’s Pumpkin Festival, but with drunken black people rioting. Not only would the state of New Hampshire likely be under a state of emergency, every major city would probably be as well. “Black people are violent by nature…these thugs, these animals…they’re destroying America”. Cable news would scare masses of white people into putting bigger locks on their doors, and staying the hell our of ‘bad neighborhoods’. People would again tell themselves that that one black friend they have is an exception, he must have had some good white teachers or something, “but most blacks are like that”.

At the end of the day, at it’s core, white privilege means that I will not be wrongfully suspected of committing a crime because of how I look, I won’t be pulled over just because I’m driving a vehicle, or stopped and harassed because I’m walking down a public sidewalk, or shot and killed for being the wrong color at the wrong time…and if I do commit a crime (robbery, murder, rape, DRUGS…) it will reflect ONLY on me and possibly but not even necessarily, my family…that’s it. It won’t reflect negatively on ALL WHITE PEOPLE or even my cousins and friends and neighbors. and similarly, I won’t suffer because of the actions of other people who look like me.  Just that, never mind EVERYTHING ELSE, (structural, social, etc.) is a HUGE PROBLEM and as human beings we cannot be okay with it. We are socialized to view drunk and out of control white college students in places like Keene as ‘rambunctious youth just having some fun’, or at most as ‘just a few bad apples ruining it for everyone’… and to see black people DEMANDING JUSTICE in places like Ferguson, whether silently in prayer or vocally in protest, as ‘thugs’ (which is just a modern and more politically correct version of another word people REALLY want to call them). If one white man murders someone, he negatively represents only himself. If one black man murders someone, of even smokes crack, he negatively represents ALL black people. They all become killers, drug addicts, thieves, gang members, and “thugs” in the eyes of white America. When one white man succeeds, it is because he comes from a hard working community and he fought tooth and nail to succeed, and it reflects positively on the whole community. When one black man succeeds, it is because individually he worked hard and overcame the fact that he should have would up in jail, because that’s where people like him ‘belong.’ or maybe a white teacher or coach is credited. The successes of white folks are collective, and failures individual. The opposite is true with black folks. That mentality MUST CHANGE.

When you look at Ferguson and Keene, you need look no further to see white privilege, need not delve into 400 years of slavery, Jim Crow, racist real-estate practices and bylaws, the ‘war on drugs’, the ‘war on poverty’, imagery of the ‘welfare queen’, the private prison industry, and the fact that little has changed since Dr. Kenneth Clark’s experiments back in the 1940’s. Ignorance is indeed bliss, and at least in respect to race and ethnicity, the majority of white Americans are blissfully ignorant. Many will make excuses for the drunken behavior of the college students at Pumpkin Fest in Keene, because they either see their own kids or grand kids when they look at the pictures, or they see themselves. The fact that we can’t see brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, or ourselves when we look at Ferguson, is because black people (along with many other groups) have been so thoroughly dehumanized since before the birth of the American empire. If they hadn’t been so dehumanized, slavery would have been impossible. Just like it would be impossible to sit back and watch the slaughter of Palestinians, and Iraqis, and Afghans, and countless others, had THEY all not been dehumanized. What people don’t understand is that THE PEOPLE WE DEHUMANIZE ARE NEVER RE-HUMANIZED and that is why the state of the world is what it is today.  The fact that we don’t, can’t, or won’t see this is white privilege. Not having to care, being able to remain blissfully ignorant, is privilege.

And talking about white privilege is not talking about “class”, though we can see class issues in Keene as well. I guarantee there were either no, or very few working class college students willingly participating in the ‘riot’. They’re either working their way through school, know full well the cost of their education, or are using the gi bill. When you don’t understand the value of a dollar and not only have mommy and daddy to pay for school and a car and an apartment, but also to bail your ass our of jail when you’re an idiot…you’re much more likely to be a drunken idiot. Even though it is a State college, if you’ve been paying attention lately, more and more kids are going to state schools from middle class families out of state, taking seats away from local working class kids.I bet kids who grew up in Keene would be a whole lot less likely to destroy Keene. So, sure there is an element of class (you have to feel entitled to destroy property for the hell of it), but you’re crazy if you can’t see the roll that race plays in places like Keene, and places like Ferguson. You’re crazy if you don’t see white privilege in our society (and in the world). You’re also crazy if you let this become an excuse for the further militarization of police, which won’t hurt these kids, but WILL hurt folks non-violently protesting against oppression.

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/10/keene_state_colelge_pumpkin_festival.html

Still and all, why bother? Here's my answer. Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone. -Kurt Vonnegut

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