An Invitation to Matter

We’re in a tumultuous time.

I have been listening to the O’Parables podcast. Octavia E. Butler’s trilogy is prescient. She wrote it in the early’90s, set in the 2020s. She is literally describing conditions so many are already experiencing and most of the rest of us (the non-billionaire class) are heading into. The podcast features Adrienne Maree Brown (please read Emergent Strategy if you haven’t already) and Toshi Reagon: they are absolutely brilliant together, breaking down each chapter for the lessons “Octavia tried to tell us” and applying them to now.

Here is info I have culled to date:

This What If episode (RadioLab) lays out the possible path to a coup. There is a transcript if you prefer to read (scroll down a bit). …


Hattie introduced herself to me in the courtroom pew. “I’m from Athol,” she said. “Nothing ever happens here.” Then Lawyer Luke gave his opening statement and I thought, “Whoa, this feels history-making!”

A cameraman from the local Channel 22 News (WWLP) was set up in the Orange District Court on February 4, 2020, livestreaming the event for defendants who conducted nonviolent civil disobedience to protect a biodynamically significant section of the Wendell State Forest (Massachusetts).

For the journalistic account by David McLellan, see Wendell Forest protesters in court for summertime arrests.


First of all, just to establish context: we don’t know if unionizing would be good, and if so, in what ways.

There are some basic questions to explore:

  1. Historically, what is the experience of Deaf people in Unions? Were they discriminated against due to audism and pathological perspectives or did Unions protect large amounts of the Deaf working classes? Can we learn from that history and do better?
  2. In the present day, does it serve the big social justice issues of our times for interpreters to ignore the powerful leverage of our role in intercultural communication or is it time that we became serious players in the world unfolding all around us? …


Engaging white people around whiteness is a challenge. Claudia Rankine, Eula Biss, and Krista Tippett suggest white people may need to do work among ourselves before we’re fit to be successful doing interracial work that tears down the institutional structures of white savagery.

I’d like to learn, in collaboration with engineers, climate scientists, and interpreters with varied language profiles how we can host the quality of conversation required to disentangle webs of politics and social policy from the evolutionary imperative to change the fuel economy. Changing the fuel economy means changing the economy, full stop. …


Think about where you live. Is it a city? A rural town?

What’s the closest forest to you? Have you ever been in a forest?

Many Americans have not. I happen to live in a town where 77% of the landscape is “open space,” meaning that the land is covered mostly in trees with some farmland (Footnote 1). It’s quite amazing, actually. In a city, a tree here and a tree there is wonderful because trees bring ease to the eyes and a breath of fresh air — literally! But what a forest does is so much more.

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Much of the most dense forest in the United States is in New England.
(Source: wildlandsandwoodlands.org)

The challenge is that in New England, where we have such significant forest, it is easy to take trees for granted. Not only has logging occurred for generations, but vast swaths of forest that were cleared in Massachusetts during the first 4oo years of colonialism grew back over the last century and a half (a rarity in the industrial age). Based on this evidence, the resilience of forest to bounce back is robust. …


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This is a Facebook post from Rose Sampley, originally posted on August 17, 2017. It’s been shared over 36,000 times in less than a week.

I am a proud Southern woman. I drink sweet tea like nobody’s business, know the difference between a Western and English saddle, and can make a pecan pie from scratch. Believe me when I say I love my heritage and my culture.

I grew up one block down from the Chickamauga Battlefield in Georgia. I had picnics in that park, went hiking on those trails with my girl scout troop. …


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White nationalists and neo-Nazis clash with counter-protesters as they enter Lee Park during the ‘Unite the Right’ rally August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This piece was written by Patty Nourse Culbertson, who was in Charlottesville as a nonviolent resistor to Unite The Right. It is powerful. The only amendments to what she wrote are some added subheadings and paragraph breaks, and minor edits for the sake of clarity.

Patty says, “I posted this in response to some criticism of our town on a wonderful post that Dan Rather wrote” on Facebook. She then posted her response to her FB page, and a mutual friend shared it this morning. In less than 9 hours it had been shared 117 times. …


The ending of Beatriz at Dinner is disturbing because throughout the film, we/white people witness our own whiteness: normalized, privileged, comfortable.

And then we are confronted with the stark reality of existential choice.

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Salma Hayek as Beatriz

There are only three ways the film can end:

  1. White people heal ourselves and change.
  2. White individuals are killed.
  3. Healers die.

The first option is decidedly unappealing. The Trump-like character of Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) reeks of white fatalism, and his supporting cast stinks of white fragility. What can one do but ignore the damage and keep doing whatever provides pleasure?

The second option does not solve the problems whiteness has created for all other living beings and the planet.

The third option is our history and our present. Are we so incapable of sacrifice, so afraid of discomfort, that we have already surrendered the future?

Brilliant, unsettling filmmaking suitable to this desperate era. A must see.


I’ve been thinking for a couple days about a tweet asking how people of color can respond to well-meaning white people who apologize for Trump’s election.

Maybe it isn’t obvious, but any version of “I’m sorry” is the wrong thing for a white person to say. “I’m so sorry” is a reflection of [your own] white grief, not an expression of solidarity with people of color. There’s been an outpouring of white grief this week, following the emotional shock of losing a race that white privilege had lead so many to believe was impossible to lose.


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“Is it really that one-sided?”

“Yes.”

White Fragility

Dr. Robin DiAngelo has coined the term “white fragility” to describe common reactions of white people when issues of racial identity arise.

Whites “withdraw, defend, cry, argue, minimize, ignore, and in other ways push back to regain our racial position and equilibrium. […This] push back [is] white fragility.”

Most American whites are unaware of white supremacy in everyday life because the system invented by the founding fathers is effective at hiding the ways white privilege works. This means most white people are raised unconscious of the role whiteness plays in overall society. …

About

stephanie jo kent

exploring the resilience factor in human systems

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