Category Archives: Uncategorized

Interrupt Hate, Stand in Love (2016)

It has been a privilege to bear witness to the intelligence, compassion and solidarity spoken and felt here today at City Hall.

I was born here in Oregon in the 1970s, and this is the state I have known all of my life.  The history, people and struggles are a big part of who I am.  Growng up biracial in small town Oregon, I internalized the fear of being ridiculed and bullied for being different.  I found myself in spaces like the boys locker room where homophobic comments were thrown around like candy.  I studied in classrooms devoid of any teaching of immigrants, women, communities of color and the working class.  I went from home to school or work feeling very isolated.

Today I believe we are face to face with forces that come out of experiences like this.  Oregon has experienced waves of attacks on people, from the White Settlers and US Army that killed and forcibly removed Native Americans from the most fertile and productive lands, to the decades of anti-gay ballot measures and anti-immigrant policies, we live in a culture that is too accustomed to attitudes of superiority and fear.

We face a society that is changing rapidly, with people of color, immigrants and refugeees making up 1 in 5 Oregonians, that is over 800,000 people in our state of 4 million.  These changes and the growing leadership from our communities represented here today, pose challenges for those who would seek to scapegoat us for the world’s deeper economic and social problems.

We face an ideology that relies on fear to maintain control and the status quo.  And at the root of this are feeling of insecurity, of being rejected by the growing multicultural, interfaith and interconnected world we live in.

We may be stressed out, targeted, humiliated and scared.  But we are more powerful because we stand in solidarity, we stand in love.  Audre Lorde reminds us that our silence will not protect us.  It is these spaces, where we can organize and tell our stories, organize and stand together, organize and take direct action, it is in these spaces where we draw the line and speak truth to power and the forces of fear, and say no more, enough of these attacks that undermine our humanity and undermine our community.

As you leave here, take pause to think about the spirit of today and what knowledge and courage you can bring home to your own life.  Because where there is a lack of knowledge and information about our communities, ideology fills the void.  Help tell the stories of the other, challenge those who would stereotype and scapegoat people in order to win favor, and set the expectation that our neighbors and our leaders reject hate and are committed to the values of compassion, solidarity.

Join me if you believe you can say yes to
Vote and hold our electeds accountable
Say her name
BLM
We can and will pull together.
Offer a healing hand.
Interrupt hate.
Stand in love.

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Feminist Journey

I am who I am in part due to male privilege, unearned benefits and opportunities that I’ve had more access to than women and transgender persons. Every day as part of my religious life, I reflect on aspects of my identity and my role in work for justice. This is part of my practice to sustain myself on the feminist journey, to shape my actions and do my best to hold myself accountable.

I’ve fallen down on the path as much as anyone, and don’t deserve any recognition for doing anything more than should be expected of all men. I had some of my biggest learnings first in my Unitarian Universalist youth ministry space in the 1980s, where I was grateful for being able to build meaningful relationships with peers and to learn the outlines of power and oppression. In college in the early 1990s came more serious “ah ha” moments, both from academic and political spaces where I learned the concepts and justice strategies, and found myself actively critiquing and building a commitment to accepting critique of my own sexism.

I had to unlearn a lot of poor and even harmful attitudes and behaviors. How to share space, to understand safety concerns, to check my generally larger physicality, and to develop my ethics as an organizer seeking to build power.

I know there has been a lot of talk, especially in light of the intense misogny and violence against women and communities of color being perpetrated in this political moment, about being visible for gender justice. It also feels easy to distinguish ourselves by what we’re not, but more important to be clear about what we envision.

In my soul, I want to transform myself and others to internalize the deepest values and practices of mutuality and liberation. At the core this looks like all people, regardless of who they are, having the rights, recognition and resources they need to thrive (yes thank you Aimee Santos-Lyons, Western States Center and Forward Together!). From this place, I envision a world.

Each year, I find myself taking on new learning. This year, I’m glad to be a part of internal work in APANO to deepen our gender justice identity as an organization and develop better practices. This looks like ongoing internal assessment, study and investment in change. I’m also grateful for friends and colleagues who lead in so many ways, and fight the wave of sexism with intersectional movement building.

On this International Women’s Day, I’m recommitting myself to the journey, opening myself up to questions and making space to ask questions of other men especially.

Oregon’s White Struggle

  
Unfolding yet again in Oregon is an epic struggle of White Americans fighting for their soul.  Unsurprisingly the media shares little of the white supremacist and xenophobic ideologies at the root of the prime activists in the Harney County occupation.  The mostly armed White men have a track record of violent rhetoric and extremist views that go beyond simple anti-government goals.  

Nativism, exploitation of the land, and the meaning of Whiteness are at play.  Oregon has long faced this struggle as militia and hate groups have dominated and flourished in Oregon politics and shaping the general social order.  While many Whites may dismiss their fellow White militants, no Person of Color is.  We know too well and too often how fear mongering by a few translates into paralysis to address racial inequities and a culture of white fragility particularly among Oregon’s liberal white elite.  

The contradictions abound, sharpened by the acquittal of officer Tim Loehmann in the shooting of 12 year old Tamir Rice, and the general law enforcement response to community protests in Ferguson, Baltimore and yes…Portland.  

 

Imperialism By Many Names

Growing up solidly middle class in an American mid size town, imperialism was not something that was very evident.  As a mixed race person of color, racism and classism seemed more salient.  

Naturally these systems are all nicely interlocking, and sometimes in a way that makes getting to the route quite confusing.  Academically like many intellectual leftists I gained a good dose of theory from university, teach-ins and considerable reading.  I greatly appreciated the privileges of the 1990s when so much new literature became accessible from smaller printing houses and eventually the Internet.  Getting to read first hand accounts of people around the world created a global context brought which I could more easily identify patterns of imperialism.  

I am still only on the verge of identifying as an anti imperialist, still needing to do more intentional personal work to consider my values and political orientation.  While my work has many marking of countering capitalism, I still struggle with bourgeois attitudes and behaviors.  I am greatly impressed with so many peers, youth and elders who live with such intentionality.  

I’m trying to discern more clearly what economic system at the root is effective enough to realize a more just and equitable world.  Pragmatically it requires persistent redistribution of resources and capable leadership to help us aspire to a better future and to fight corruption.  

The Evils of Weaponizing Campus Security Forces

The forces of fear and ignorance are alive in Portland.  The Portland State University Board has authorized arming security forces with weapons that can kill.  Check out Rebel Metropolis.  As our children of color face persistently experience threats of violence and disproportionately pay the ultimate price of #whitesupremacy, the choice to put more guns into our education learning environment demonstrates the corruption of leadership.

We are blessed by the #BlackLivesMatters movement and efforts of Don’t Shoot Portland and communities of color working for a world where all people have the rights, recognition and resources to thrive.  It is notable that the activists are directing the growing energy towards concrete systemic change and we should be thrilled to see young people of color and allies organizing direct action at PSU, the Capitol, and other places of power and influence.  Not for a minute can we buy into the mythology that the status quo will serve all of our communities fairly.  It is a ruse to believe such nonsense, but one that will have ample resources and influence behind it.

Our leadership must be in the spotlight and we must organize for the long-term if we expect any significant change.  There are many roles to play, and no individual can know or play them all.  As we muster ourselves to the goal, let us not only call out the evil, but to expect that those who we are in relationship with are doing the same.  And then to ask “why” when there is silence.  We can all benefit when we take time to reflect, not just be the first to share something on social media, or to tweet or like, but to more deeply contemplate from the inside out the meaning of what is happening around us.  Share that seed with the world, and let it flourish.

On a related note, from what I consider my liberationist, progressive, justice-centered viewpoint, and to quote a colleague, “we cannot just be the left, we must build the left”.  We cannot just be individuals in the fight, we must continually build working relationships, trust, respect.  At the center of this is the value of accountability, to the values we share, and to one another.  We have work to do to address our own internal strife, where we sharp elbow and blindside one another, seeking to be hard, righteous, and to lift ourselves up at the expense of others.  We have difficultly giving feedback, engaging in process, bringing others up with us, building structures, asking and receiving support, and continually clarifying and renewing the values that bind us.

Oregon Health Equity Alliance 2015 Kickoff

Check out these great photos from Darlene Huntress of Oregon Action from the Oregon Health Equity Alliance (OHEA) Legislative Kickoff this week.  They are beautiful!

Really proud of our growing alliance for communities of color, immigrants and refugees fighting for a better Oregon. These photos kickoff our story for the next year for health equity, strong families and racial justice.

Our work is becoming increasingly organized, with great trust, discipline and care for each other’s work. As we continue to raise and share resources equitably, we expand our capacity to win on issues that affect our communities.

Another word for this level of discipline is militant! While perhaps loaded for some, it has important meaning in our work to confront generations of inequities and is key to achieving lasting change.

Ukulele Manila

fourstringsfridayI am dedicating a portion of my sabbatical to learning how to play the Ukulele.  I’ve played guitar since college, self-taught and follow along student (with a big hat tip to my old college mates Benno & Josh).  I never progressed all that much in the guitar, but can hold the basic chords together.  Tomorrow morning is my first lesson, at home thanks to Wames Music Tutorial Center and Teacher Tep.

Haven’t yet committed to buying a Uke, but found a great little Uke Store/Coffee Shop that is very nice in Cubao near where we are living in Quezon City.  The Four Strings feels like a good old fashioned cooperative and startup entrepreneurial millennial project.  I love it.