BEYOND MERE SURVIVAL


on the other side of the road
October 25, 2008, 3:22 pm
Filed under: rants and such | Tags: , , , , , , ,

this scenario greeted me on the way to the middle school i spoke at this week, and it was too much to pass. there is so much oversaturatyion of information and opinions about the current election, that even though it occupies my mind daily, i have not felt compelled to write about it. Partly i am just terriefied. i feel like i have been holding my breath for the past couple of months, not wanting to spit out trite and overly used thoughts about either candidate.

i also still feel in this between space of belonging elsewhere, of not being really part of america, of knowing i fit in some outside space where my citizenship status does not even allow me to vote. at the same time everyday i am confronted by political ideas, not in democrat VS republican, but in the way kids at school understand gender, or violence, or sex. in the way i can’t afford medical care, or my daughters orthodontist’s bills. there are politics in oona and florence learning from school that sex is only something a married man and woman do, or that poverty is shameful.  there are politics in every inch of my life, that in the end will be affected by who is president. what is striking is that this whole election feels like a battle where both factions equally believe in their righteousness. on one side we have the obama sub-development, and on the other the mccain’s. i just can’t believe it’ that simple. no matter what ideals are behind these decisions i find that people want the same things: a sense of safety, of belonging, and the chance to have a meaningful life. but there is little talk of common ground, because it doesn’t serve political strategy. there is such palpable tension between people, at least in indiana, to the point that it would seem impossible for an obama supporter to sit at the same table with a mccain voter.

i just don’t see how it’s helping anything. it’s hard. no doubt. it would be incredibly difficult for me to calmly talk to someone that believes women are inferior, or people of color. it would probably physically hurt to have a discussion with people that don’t believe a woman should have the right to chose what to do with her body, or that anyone should be free to love and find sexy whomever they wish. but it seems like closing communication will only be hurtful for everyone involved.

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CR10! critical resistance
September 30, 2008, 2:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

wow. i got back today from oakland and the critical resistance conference, and i must do something to organize my thoughts of the past few days, because it feels like indigestion. there are so many layers to the conference: the workshops and process of learning from each other, the meeting of new people, and the inevitable presence of the city. i feel energized and inspired, but also confused. being in that space for the past 3 days, i come home much more hazy about my space in the “movement” than i expected.

part of it is simply that my experience is different. i have only been in this country for a small chunk of my life and i have a hard time feeling any sense of belonging. one disappointing thing about the conference was the persistence in which people seemed to need to enumerate their labels, in every single interactions. there was actually a person in one of the workshops i facilitated that said just that at the beginning of their comment: ” i am gonna put out there all my labels, so you all understand where i am coming from”. but does that really help? it doesn’t help me. and it doesn’t create a space to let people be the complicated human beings that they are, but only occupy a certain restricted amount of boxes.

another element to that is the impossibility to choose. should i think of myself as italian, or a woman? is my experience with poverty more important to claim than my experience with sexual assault? what about parenthood? disability? i can’t do that, i can’t pick and choose. nevertheless a lot of organizing seems to be centered around an identity, or one common trait to a group of people that pushes them to emphasize with each other, and be motivated to create a change. i have always felt at the edges of identities, never really fully belonging to one.

i can’t even understand where i stand with something as fundamental as race. my skin is fair, but i grew up in italy feeling not part of the white world at all, with a sense that being Italian was not the same as being white. i have vivid memories of traveling north to europe and the reality of my nationality being a source of embarrassment, scorn, and right out hate. then i moved to the US where the continuum of race is very different, and i can’t quite find my spot. i feel little ties to white culture, but i claiming to be a person of color also feels unfair.

the conference was humbling, because i was on two panels, one  about alternatives to state responses to gender violence, and the other on monstrous masculinity, and both panels had people that i admire, and look up to, and that have being doing amazing work for a long time (mimi kim,sara kershnar,
)which was daunting, but really made me question what i am doing and how i could do it better.

i know that this town is lacking alternatives to the criminal system, that accountabiliy is too often just equated with jail time, and that even in my own group of friends i see sexist fucked up behaviors all the time. it’s exausting to even think about it. after all is said and done, the conference over, and i am back at my kitchen table, the one thing that stays with me is one sentence, from a nervous young woman that took the stage for the closing speech “this ain’t no time to get tired”.



what it all comes down to
September 13, 2008, 5:11 pm
Filed under: rants and such, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

i feel overwhelmed. how can anyone not feel overwhelmed right now? it’s a race for mental space between what to do in the next year, being probably way too anxious about the oncoming election, figuring out what is going on with my surroundings, and how best to create a less fucked up world. i am overwhelmed by seeing all that goes on that is hurtful and awful, and that i feel so powerless to change most of it.

i felt like a joke tabling at the movie gallery last week for sexual assault prevention, while an onslaught of movie previews were streaming on the numerous TVs around the stores, slapping me with continuous sexist messages. it seems like an incredible paradox that the people that can create the most change are the ones with the most power. i don’t want to try to collect as much power as possible, just to be able to have my voice heard. the very process of accumulating power seems to be such a fundamental part of so many systems of oppression.

at the same time how do i create any change if my voice is silenced? whether because i have no financial stature, or because of my gender, my nationality, or my disability. so, i am struggling to figure all of this out while i am deciding whether to enter the world of graduate school. weirdly enough applying to graduate school, which seems to be such an elite institution, comes largely from having so little economical mobility. if i keep going to school i can be paid to keep on learning, instead of working a minimum wage job, and having the smallest bits of time to do the things i love.

i keep reading inspiring essays, or watching strirring documentaries, or listening to music that speaks to so much of what i have been thinking about, and i am tired of being the recipient of all of it. i want to be part of the discourse, and participate in the discussion. the hard part is figuring out how to find a space to do that without falling into all the pitfalls of elbowing my way through the crowd, and making the same mistakes that i am trying to change in the world around me.