Category Archives: Look At This Mess

re: #TakeAKnee

So I see World Leader Pretend decided that going off on Colin Kaepernick and Steph Curry was more important than helping Americans in Puerto Rico, who are facing an unimaginable humanitarian crisis.

World Leader Pretend has even called for a boycott of the NFL if the players #TakeAKnee or sit during the national anthem.

I won’t take advice or direction from a draft dodger who has to be reminded to place his hand over his heart during the national anthem. I have plenty of reasons of my own to have stopped supporting the National Football League.

I stopped supporting the NFL over a decade ago, but NOT because of players who exercise their constitutional right to stand or sit or sing or pray or do whatever the hell they want to during the national anthem. I quit watching the NFL because I do not condone celebrating rapists, wife/girlfriend beaters, animal abusers, or the league office covering up the fact that the sport is very very bad for brains. I stopped supporting the NFL because, when I took a good long, uncomfortable look at it, I found I was disgusted that the league owners enjoy running the league like a giant plantation.

While I won’t watch the NFL, I will #TakeAKnee with Colin Kaepernick until Black and Brown people can leave their homes and go about their lives without fear of facing a police officer who appoints him/herself as judge/jury/executioner for those whose only “crime” was existing as a person of color in public. I will #TakeAKnee until we start moving our society toward racial justice and equal opportunity for ALL Americans, regardless of their skin color, gender identity or sexual orientation. I will #TakeAKnee because my Black and Brown friends are weary from fighting this battle, every single day of their lives, and I refuse to stand by and watch them continue to fight this alone.

Postscript: Well, after several days, World Leader Pretend finally had something to say about the devastation in Puerto Rico. No surprise that he pretty much insulted them and kicked them while they’re down, for that’s the Way Of The Bully.

How nice that he managed to work in that food, (clean) water, and medical supplies/help are somewhere on the list of priorities…after dragging Puerto Rico for owing Wall Street and banks. Good grief!

If you want to help the people of Puerto Rico in their recovery, Jezebel has a roundup of places where you can donate.

Actually, White America, #ThisIsUs. And We Must #DoBetter

Like many, I’ve been watching what has been happening in Charlottesville, Virginia and it has turned my insides into a cocktail shaker of revulsion, rage, and profound despair.

What is missing from this mix, however, is shock.

What is going on in Charlottesville this weekend should not be a shock to anyone, yet my Twitter feed is full of (mostly) white people who are absolutely shocked by what is happening. There are a lot of declarations that the bigotry and racial hatred we’re seeing is “not who we are” or “not what America is about” and #ThisIsNotUs.

If you are one of those people condemning the Nazis and white nationalists using this kind of language, please tell me: Have you studied American history at all? Not the Rah-Rah-America crap we were fed in school, but REAL American history. The history where White America committed genocide. The history where White America enslaved blacks and forced many other races into hard labor to build our infrastructure. The history where non-whites were not allowed to vote. The not-that-distant history where white people kept non-white people segregated, forced them into separate neighborhoods, separate stores, separate schools, separate busses, SEPARATE GODDAMN DRINKING FOUNTAINS.

Because it seems to me that if you learned actual American history, the hard, ugly truth, you’d understand that this country was built on racial bigotry. We’ve been at this for 250 years.

Did you really believe that having a black POTUS was going to make that all go away? That the neo-Nazis and white nationalists would suddenly see the error of their ways and we’d be One Nation, Indivisible, With Liberty And Justice For All?

That there is some serious Magical Thinking.

White America: what we saw in Charlottesville, and in Portland and Minnesota and across the country over the last several months, THIS IS US. It should not be us, we wish it wasn’t us, but we have a hell of a long way to go before we can claim that these people do not represent America.

So, enough living in denial: it’s well past time that we own this. It’s time that we clean this up. It’s time that we come for our bigoted relatives, friends, and co-workers. Call their racist shit out. Have those uncomfortable discussions.

But if all you’ve got is re-posting touching photos with superimposed Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi quotes on your Facebook page all day, you’re bullshit unless you’re willing to do the real work to make Actual America live up to Fantasy America.

A Day Without A Woman

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; A Woman's Place Is In The Resistance

Today is International Women’s Day, a day on which the organizers of the Women’s March called for a strike. I elected to withhold our labor today. Instead, I attended rallies at San Francisco City Hall and at Justin Herman Plaza. It was beautiful to be in such great energy.

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; International Women's Day Rally, San Francisco (6)

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Strong Women Scare Weak Men

We live in a time where straight white men who have too much societal power routinely dehumanize people of color, LGBTQ, immigrants, and women. We have to come together to fight to have our humanity recognized.

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Sign O' The Times

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Vladnald

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; There's a MADMAN

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Pup Sporting a Pussy Hat

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Stay Nasty

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; For ALL Sisters

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Quality Man

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Hands Off

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; An Immigrant Woman

Victoria Klum Photography: Photoblog &emdash; Pedicabs Against Patriarchy

The Year That Was 2016: Part One (a.k.a. Now What?)

I’m late to the Year In Review game, I know. I’ve been busy.

And I am not the first to point out that 2016 was an epic Shit Show on so many levels. Looking back, the writing was on the wall last January, when David Bowie and Alan Rickman died. It was a year that saw so many heroes from my childhood and young adulthood leave our world, when we–when I–needed them most. Because, left to our own devices, we did not show our best selves. In a lot of ways we showed the worst of ourselves. Collectively, we made terrible choices based on fear and on anger and, even worse, on apathy. Some of us were convinced that the best course for change was to elect a crocodile to “drain the swamp”–but instead of draining the swamp, he’s brought in MORE crocodiles. And those who lurked in the shadows, clinging to their bigotry and biding their time, have become emboldened and are harassing and threatening anyone who isn’t white, straight and Christian.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about all of this over the last couple of weeks. How the loss of so many of our heroes coincided with one of the darkest years in our modern history. How we lost our champions for racial justice and LGBTQ equality and advocates for access to health care in a year where men were put into office who want to turn back the clock on civil rights and deny access to health care to millions of people.

The astrologer Kaypacha referred to 2016 as The End of Illusion. Many of us realize that our paradigms are outdated, useless, and harmful to our society and to the planet. We had an opportunity within our grasp to begin to make real change, to dismantle the old, harmful paradigm. But too many of us underestimated how easily our neighbors would overlook the clear evidence of Evil, when Evil promised them his personal protection. Because, let’s face facts: to someone who feels (rightly or wrongly) disenfranchised, it’s a lot more comforting to see someone look straight into the camera and promise to protect them, individually, than someone who vows to do all s/he can to lift all of society, and risk being left behind again.

We all got caught up in our own illusions, but we’ve all landed on the same destructive path.

What 2016 was telling us–particularly those of us in the late-baby boom/early Gen X group–is that we need to seriously Grow Up and Show Up. We loved our icons: they entertained us, inspired us, advocated for those of us who couldn’t conform, and they lived their lives with such brazen honesty. While it is natural to lament our losses, we owe it to them to show what we actually learned from them, and how we plan to apply those lessons to life.

We no longer have the luxury of simply sitting in a theater, or on our couches, passively watching The Resistance play out on a screen. We are LIVING it.

This is more than a hashtag. More than occasionally changing your profile picture.  This is All Hands On Deck: to combat the challenges that we face requires a sustained effort. We cannot afford another moment of apathy. We cannot afford to allow lies to go unchallenged. We cannot afford to allow the basic human rights of our friends and neighbors and family members to be rolled back. We cannot afford to allow misdirected anger at poor people or immigrants result in millions of people losing access to health care.

We made a huge mess of it in 2016 and the work ahead of us is daunting. But the thought of what might happen to us if we don’t actively challenge tyranny is terrifying. Individually, we all have a part to play in this resistance. And I’m forever grateful that I have the example of General Leia Organa to draw inspiration from.

The One About The Post I Found Lurking In My Drafts Folder

(Editor’s Note: As you’ll notice, I started this post the day after the Presidential Election. I left it languishing in my Drafts folder, mostly because I felt I was still working through my emotions about the outcome. Reading it over today, my feelings are not much different from this initial reaction. So I’m giving it a quick edit, adding a couple of paragraphs and sending it out into the world. —vicster)

My thoughts and feelings today are thousands of snakes, curled into a big ball. To disturb one causes the whole ball to hiss and spit, thousands of fangs exposed. I find it very difficult to process what happened in America yesterday. I can’t really say that I’m shocked, just that I didn’t want to believe it. I really wanted to believe that we, as a nation, could put one foot forward. One step in the direction of progress. Just one.

Clearly, that was expecting too much.

But the signs were there and they’ve always been there. As white people, we have a collective bigotry, and we foster a patriarchal structure meant to keep women and people of color In Their Place, in some misguided belief that it somehow keeps US safe (as if we need more protection in our society).

Those of you taking a breath to say #notallwhitepeople can really just STFU right now. You are part of the problem. I am the problem. WE are the problem.

We own this.

We own our Shadow.

He is that part of us, disturbed, cruel, belligerent. A bully. He is our internal hatred, our envy. The part of us that insists that we’re self-made (as we look down on others who ask for at least an equal chance), when we have been given so many advantages and a safety net, knit especially for us. He is that part of ourselves that we trytrytry to hide. To deny that he is exists within us. 

And then he began to emerge from the muck. He won the GOP primary and we still tried to deny he exsists in us.

Deny.

Deny.

Deny.

BUT I DIDN’T VOTE FOR HIM. I’M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR HIM.”

And that’s our problem, right there. Most of us who oppose Trump got lazy. We thought that Trump constantly reminding America just how dispicable he is would be enough to do our job for us. We thought that simply casting our votes for Clinton (or Stein, or Johnson, or writing in Sanders or your pet betta fish) would be enough.

We got that wrong. (I know you Bernie supporters out there really want to believe that he was the left’s only hope of beating Trump. But by now you are reminded that he and many of his supporters are openly anti-Semitic, in addition to being unfalteringly misogynist. Therefore, there was no guarantee that he would have won out over Trump, given how much bigotry and misogyny Americans seem to be comfortable overlooking.)

Donald Trump is awful. Even most of the people who voted for him know that. And yet, there they were on Election Day: the frogs, trusting the crocodile to provide them safe passage through the swamp. (I wonder how many of them will be genuinely surprised when the crocodile chews them up and spits out their bones? )

And now the darkest parts of our society now feel empowered in their bigotry, their misogyny, their hatred of any part of society that is not them. In the thirteen days since Election Night, hate crimes have increased, we have Nazis who are bleating “heil Trump” and an incoming administration taking shape that threatens to decimate our environment, not to mention the liberty and safety of millions of Americans.

So…yeah. We are well past the time for blaming everyone else (the media, anyone who supported any candidate at any time, James Comey or Vladmir Putin) for this dystopian nightmare that should have never made it past the shitty first draft of our collective NaNoWriMo novel.

We own this mess, but we own the solution, too.

If we want to live in an America where health care and privacy is a basic human right, where all adults are free to love and marry whoever their heart desires, where every American can get a drink of safe, clean water, where black Americans can go about their daily lives, free from the fear of being murdered in the streets by our overly militarized police departments, where everyone is free to practice their religion (or not observe any religion at all), where people are put to work building an environmentally sustainable energy infrastructure, and where we move toward energy independence from oil…if any of that means anything to us, it is up to ALL OF US to get to work. We must oppose any rollbacks to legislation that protects the rights of Americans or protects our environment and any new legislation that threatens the survival of poor and middle class Americans, that threatens to tear apart immigrant families, that demonizes people of certain faiths, and that threatens to  destroy our environment.

We must confront bigotry, in all of its forms. We have allowed our society to normalize the slaughter of black people on our streets. We must rise up against institutional racism and misogyny by removing the elected judges and officials who continue to sanction it. We must rise up against religious intolerance. We must rise up against xenophobia. We must rise up against Wall Street executives, who are the real reason why the middle class is mired in shitty, stagnant wages (though the GOP has managed to convince much of White Middle Class Americans that it is because of immigrants).

We face an enormous battle, one with many fronts. We can’t afford to wait for Someone Else to pick up the standard for us. YOU are that Someone. I am that Someone.