12 Ways to be an Effective Ally at Standing Rock


12 Ways to Be an Effective Ally at Standing Rock

 

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Important Tips for Non-Natives Who Want to Support Standing Rock

A brief disclaimer: As a relatively young white man, I am not an expert in white allyship for native causes, and am in no way a spokesperson for any indigenous movement. I was inspired to write this piece only because of painful mistakes I have witnessed continuously repeated in native spaces by people like me. In fact, virtually all the actions one can unintentionally take to hamper indigenous movements, I have personally committed. I am writing this so that others can avoid common pitfalls and step into what I see as effective allyship within native movements.

1) Work towards the ultimate goal

Everyone knows that the immediate goal of the protests are to stop the pipeline, but what many outside observers seem to fail to realize is that the ultimate goal is for unified indigenous peoples themselves to stop the pipeline.

The last time that many of these tribes came together was for what the Lakota know as the Battle of Greasy Grass, and we know as Custer’s Last Stand. They are well aware of this fact at Standing Rock, as flying all over camp are exact replicas of the flag captured during that total defeat of the US army. This gathering is even more significant than that famous battle in terms of unity, because never in the history of this continent have so many tribes come together to work as one for a single goal. If this action against the pipeline is accomplished via grassroots indigenous support, native unity is gaining a track record of successfully fighting for their equal treatment.

What this means for us on the ground is that our top goal is to strengthen the peace and unity of the indigenous factions within the camp, and to support natives stepping into positions of leadership and influence in this movement. Non-indigenous individuals attempting to assist the protests by leading, organizing, and coordinating natives are actually harming the long term outlook of this movement.

The ultimate goal is for unified indigenous peoples themselves to stop the pipeline.The ultimate goal is for unified indigenous peoples themselves to stop the pipeline.

2) Understand the different ways you can help

There is a lot of need on the ground in North Dakota, and there are many ways you can support. One is by simply donating. There are several different funds for the various camps out there. If you donate in this way, the money will likely be used for legal fees, central kitchen supplies, care of the children and elderly, winter gear for the protectors, and more.

At Standing Rock, we met a lot of impoverished individuals who had been camping for weeks or months, and were prepared to spend the whole winter there, despite not even having sub-zero sleeping bags. These groups are often small, autonomous, traditional, and too proud to ask for the help they need when there are so many elderly and children present. I believe that distributing aid directly to the people who are in it for the long haul has a powerful impact on ultimately stopping the pipeline. To read more about how aid on the ground can help, please look at this document we compiled, tracking how our money was spent.

There is also need on the ground. Kitchen volunteers commonly worked up to midnight, started feeding people at the crack of dawn, and could certainly use extra help. There is a school on site that may still be looking for teachers. First aid skills, manual labor, trash clearance, minor landscaping, balanced media coverage, running errands: All were required from what I could see. If you feel comfortable contributing in these ways, are willing to navigate the complexities of race and colonialism, and are able to be self sufficient, I think your presence would be valued and appreciated onsite.

Some have been camping for weeks or months.Some have been camping for weeks or months.

3) Know how not to contribute

Since returning, I have seen a few fundraising efforts online that I thought were well intentioned but potentially problematic. One was of a Los Angeles based art director who was trying to raise $6,000 to fund her dance company to travel to Standing Rock, so that they could make an art documentary and choreograph a modern dance piece of the protests. Another was of a Brooklyn based alternative healer who had raised $1,750 to fund her travels there so she and her coworkers could give free acupuncturist sessions to the activists. Both of these funds advertised the needs of the protesters on the ground and promised that excess money would be donated to the activists.

There is a painful history of indigenous personal struggles being appropriated for someone’s artwork, personal validation, or new age experience, and they are rightly sensitive towards these forms of well-intentioned exploitation.

Native communities have a long tradition of powerful art that resonates with individuals from all backgrounds, and alternative healing that supports their people in the absence of modern medicine. From what I can tell, this movement is about strengthening indigenous culture, not diluting it. Most people who are not part of the tribes that are unifying should be paying their own way out there and fundraising for the activists.

Some people may say it’s better to donate money you would use to travel there, to the organizers. Essentially, I view simply writing a fat check as one of the downfalls of western solidarity. There is a strong tendency to donate out of guilt and then move on from the struggle. This is a budding movement and needs individuals from all walks of life in this country on the ground, interacting with, and trying to understand the complexities of the challenges facing Native Americans. The camps themselves are asking for empowered allies, willing to do the hard day-to-day labor that this space requires.

This movement is about strengthening indigenous culture, not diluting it.This movement is about strengthening indigenous culture, not diluting it.

4) Work to Build Unity

Much white activism is built around generating outrage and anger, so as to better rally support for a specific cause. This is a fine strategy for many protests, but when these habits are brought to Standing Rock they fall oddly flat. This is because there is already plenty of conviction (and anger) on these reservations whose residents are turning up in force. There are hundreds of Natives prepared to camp through the winter if need be, and Standing Rock has turned into a village at this point, with all the politics and natural divisions that a village would have.

What this group of people effectively living together needs, is to have peace amongst themselves and to celebrate what they are accomplishing, so that they have the emotional stamina to thrive for the long haul. Unleashing a bunch of dramatic agitators in this space does nothing to relieve these essential problems facing the various camps stopping the pipeline. If anything, it exacerbates them. If you are going with the assumption that this protest is a place for theatrics, costumes, ironic signs, and anger, think again. The rules of activism there are fundamentally different, and revolve around building cohesion, unity, and mutual solidarity rather than incitement and dramatic education.

5) Trust native competency

This is a particularly challenging thing for many newcomers to this struggle. First Nations do things a bit differently than we do, and at times it can feel grating. Often you may wonder if any Indian you meet will ever reference something specifically in time and space. You will even see individuals with critical jobs sitting around the whole day appearing to do nothing. Ignore your frustration and do not try to step in and save the day. If you feel the need to assist, simply ask how you can help and do whatever is asked of you, no matter how trivial. Just know that things happen on their own time out there, and remember that there is only one group to ever extract an unconditional military surrender from the Unites States of America: the Lakota nation. You are around highly competent individuals doing what they do best: protecting their lands, culture, and way of life. Take this opportunity to learn from the experts.

They need to have peace amongst themselves and to celebrate what they are accomplishing.They need to have peace amongst themselves and to celebrate what they are accomplishing.

6) Understand the cultural context of the situation

Before you go, please do yourself and everyone else a favor and read up on two things: Basic statistics on the quality of life on the reservations in South and North Dakota, and the activism of the American Indian Movement around the 70s.

You will find some things that surprise you. Alcoholism rates of up to 80%15% of high schoolers have attempted suicide in the last 12 months, and a life expectancy that is lower than any other country in the world. No you didn’t read that wrong. If your goal was to live as long as possible, you would be better off being born in Sub-Saharan Africa than on many reservations next to Standing Rock. You will encounter poverty and hear stories to rival, and likely surpass, anything else you have ever seen or heard. Brace yourself and check your privilege. You may have things stolen from you. Remember that for many youth on the reservation, a dollar is powerful, a nice pair of jeans maybe comes by once every few years, and a gallon or two of gas opens up a world of possibility. Protect yourself from theft and false promises about what offered goods will be used for, but respond to such events with compassion.

Remember that the last time serious activism was occurring on these reservations, it resulted in great loss of life. Know that despite the peaceful nature of these protests, many are prepared to die for the good of their people, and personally know people who have.

7) Be prepared to experience race as the racial minority

This is the thing I was least prepared for, which changed my life the most. I had been in other contexts where I was a racial minority (say Latin America or Nepal), where I was celebrated for my race or at least acknowledged as neutral.

This is different on “The Rez”. The reality is that most whites coming onto native land over the last 100 years have been exploiting, whether intentionally or not, these indigenous communities. Additionally, the last time there was serious activism on these reservations many of the whites trying to get involved were FBI informants. While all races are genuinely invited to all the camps at Standing Rock, as a white person you will find yourself having to prove yourself to be an exception to the rule. Ironically, this is how I imagine what it is like being a racial minority in America in general, where you have to continuously prove yourself to be the exception to stereotypes imposed on you by the majority culture. If you are paying the slightest bit of attention, you will experience what it is like to be a racial minority with an attached sense of “otherness”, and this will likely change how you view the world.

You will experience what it is like to be a racial minority.You will experience what it is like to be a racial minority.

8) Be aware of the importance of symbolism

It was commonplace for Natives to recount intimate details of some historical massacre in casual conversation. It was normal to see someone carrying around a jar of water, or other item, from a piece of land where hundreds of their people had been massacred by colonialists. Why is there this intimate connection to the past when our own culture swiftly forgets details about anything that happened to our family before our grandparents?

In my opinion, natives have a greater closeness with the history because many view themselves not as wholly individuals, but also as a part of a larger tribe, with the trials and tribulations of those communities not being completely separate from theirs. It is important to try to navigate these difficult waters so that you aren’t accidentally rubbing someone’s face into an incident that seems like ancient history to you, but might as well have been yesterday for many of your companions.

I made plenty of mistakes when I was out there. One time, I suggested to the people who I was distributing funding and materials with that perhaps we should get some old army surplus wool blankets, as these are cheap, extremely durable, can fit both needs of cold weather garb and sleeping gear. I was gently reminded that many traditionals simply wouldn’t accept blankets from a white man, as the bio-terrorism of our shared history is still remembered quite clearly.

Try and avoid obvious pitfalls like these but also know that while you are there you will make mistakes, I guarantee it. Don’t let a gentle reminder hurt your feelings, as no one is questioning your intentions. It is important to not be defensive, but simply apologize and correct whatever you can.

Many view themselves not as wholly individuals, but also as a part of a larger tribe.Many view themselves not as wholly individuals, but also as a part of a larger tribe.

9) Avoid ceremony unless you are explicitly invited

I imagine nearly everyone has the desire to participate in a Native American ceremony, held by some powerful medicine person which facilitates a unique and authentic experience. These protests are not the place to come looking for that.

Moreover, I am sure many hold a desire to gain some kind of spiritual connection with these ancient traditions, and develop a relationship with these ceremonies such that you could hold them with as much power as any Native American you come across. These protests are not the place to demonstrate that.

There is something that can only be described as a deep hunger in white people for authentic, earth-based spirituality. Unfortunately, this hunger is often combined with an unfortunate combination of feeling entitled to be taught these traditions, and a complete lack of cultural awareness. Coming into native space with charged religious symbols, attempting to participate in ceremonies uninvited, or publicly leading new age rituals, patched together from the mutilated parts of other divergent traditions, makes you as complicit in cultural genocide as the racist cops arresting activists at the checkpoint you will be going through.

On my last night camping next to the Missouri River, I was talking late past midnight with one local young man who seemed pretty traditional. I asked him if he was learning the old ways. He replied that he was trying to, but it took a lot of time. His elders and grandparents would often wait months or even years in between teaching or sharing with him aspects of his people’s religion, waiting for the moment that was just right to impart a specific piece of wisdom.

These protests are not the place to come looking for a Native American ceremony.These protests are not the place to come looking for a Native American ceremony.

10) Leave your costume at home

I am incredulous that this actually needs to be said, but apparently a bunch of people feel that they need to literally dress up at this occupation. I would like to ask these people, seriously, if they would consider wearing their sparkle pony fox-eared hat and matching mittens to the marches for women’s suffrage occurring in the 1920s. We are here to support quietly in the background, not flaunt a radical-ragamuffin style that our privilege affords us.

11) Don’t take up space

One odd but unsurprising thing I noticed was that although the protectors were ~95% native, 50% of the individuals who sat closest to the central fire were white. We have a habit of taking up inordinate amounts of space, and often can attempt to make a situation or movement about our own struggle and personal exploration.  Move back and help from the edges so that others can step into the center.

12) Check out this small recommended reading list

Neither Wolf Nor Dog, by Kent Nerburn. This book was recommended to me by my native family when I was first going to help on a reservation years ago, and I found its perspectives indispensable.

Additionally, Standing Rock Allies Resource Packet provides important information on what you need to know before going to Standing Rock. This includes guidelines on joining camp culture and Oceti Sakowin Camp Protocols.

 

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Many of us want to be able to help the Native people out as they make this historic stand for their sacred land and to protect the water from contamination. At a time when water is getting contaminated often and it is contaminated from oil and deteriorating pipelines, this is an historically and culturally significant time.  The last time the Nations came together was to fight the White Man who was stealing their land.

 

If you have decided that you want to go to Standing Rock to offer your assistance, these points will help you to effectively and successfully stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in this historic endeavor. White people need to be careful that you don’t act on feelings of white privilege such as having the right ideas. Keep on the edge of things. The Native people need to be able to control this protest.  It is their culture that is on the line, their land, their ancestors, and their lives and water.  It is their rights being trampled, and their ways must prevail in this protest.

Namaste

Barbara

 

 

The Need to Read


I’m a reader.  That’s probably not a surprise to anybody; I suspect most of us here are.  I read non-fiction, mostly, and it’s been a great source of knowledge to me — as much an education as anything I learned in school.  I like to read slowly, to savor it, to contemplate the message.  Certain lines will always catch me, and I will ponder them for hours, pulling new meanings.

I give books to my grandchildren, for birthdays, holidays, as rewards for good grades.  It’s important to  instill in them a love of reading, I think, because readers are informed and informed people are necessary to the smooth running of this world.

Reading fosters understanding of other cultures; gives warning of things that can go wrong; gives hope in a new, better world to come.

One of my sister’s favorite authors, Neil Gaiman says “Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them.  And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Namaste,

Barbara

 

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The Need to Read

Reading books remains one of the best ways to engage with the world, become a better person and understand life’s questions, big and small

ILLUSTRATION: BRIAN STAUFFE

We all ask each other a lot of questions. But we should all ask one question a lot more often: “What are you reading?”

It’s a simple question but a powerful one, and it can change lives.

Here’s one example: I met, at a bookstore, a woman who told me that she had fallen sadly out of touch with her beloved grandson. She lived in Florida. He and his parents lived elsewhere. She would call him and ask him about school or about his day. He would respond in one-word answers: Fine. Nothing. Nope.

And then one day, she asked him what he was reading. He had just started “The Hunger Games,” a series of dystopian young-adult novels by Suzanne Collins. The grandmother decided to read the first volume so that she could talk about it with her grandson the next time they chatted on the phone. She didn’t know what to expect, but she found herself hooked from the first pages, in which Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the annual battle-to-the-death among a select group of teens.

The book helped this grandmother cut through the superficialities of phone chat and engage her grandson on the most important questions that humans face about survival and destruction and loyalty and betrayal and good and evil, and about politics as well. Now her grandson couldn’t wait to talk to her when she called—to tell her where he was, to find out where she was and to speculate about what would happen next.

Other than belonging to the same family, they had never had much in common. Now they did. The conduit was reading.

We need to read and to be readers now more than ever.

We overschedule our days and complain constantly about being too busy. We shop endlessly for stuff we don’t need and then feel oppressed by the clutter that surrounds us. We rarely sleep well or enough. We compare our bodies to the artificial ones we see in magazines and our lives to the exaggerated ones we see on television. We watch cooking shows and then eat fast food. We worry ourselves sick and join gyms we don’t visit. We keep up with hundreds of acquaintances but rarely see our best friends. We bombard ourselves with video clips and emails and instant messages. We even interrupt our interruptions.

And at the heart of it, for so many, is fear—fear that we are missing out on something. Wherever we are, someone somewhere is doing or seeing or eating or listening to something better.

I’m eager to escape from this way of living. And if enough of us escape, the world will be better for it.

Connectivity is one of the great blessings of the internet era, and it makes extraordinary things possible. But constant connectivity can be a curse, encouraging the lesser angels of our nature. None of the nine Muses of classical times bore the names Impatience or Distraction.

The City Lights bookstore in San Francisco.
The City Lights bookstore in San Francisco. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/LONELY PLANET IMAGES

Books are uniquely suited to helping us change our relationship to the rhythms and habits of daily life in this world of endless connectivity. We can’t interrupt books; we can only interrupt ourselves while reading them. They are the expression of an individual or a group of individuals, not of a hive mind or collective consciousness. They speak to us, thoughtfully, one at a time. They demand our attention. And they demand that we briefly put aside our own beliefs and prejudices and listen to someone else’s. You can rant against a book, scribble in the margin or even chuck it out the window. Still, you won’t change the words on the page.

The technology of a book is genius: The order of the words is fixed, whether on the page or on the screen, but the speed at which you read them is entirely up to you. Sure, this allows you to skip ahead and jump around. But it also allows you to slow down, savor and ponder.

At the trial in which he would be sentenced to death, Socrates (as quoted by Plato) said that the unexamined life isn’t worth living. Reading is the best way I know to learn how to examine your life. By comparing what you’ve done to what others have done, and your thoughts and theories and feelings to those of others, you learn about yourself and the world around you. Perhaps that is why reading is one of the few things you do alone that can make you feel less alone. It is a solitary activity that connects you to others.

So I’m on a search—and have been, I now realize, all my life—to find books to help me make sense of the world, to help me become a better person, to help me get my head around the big questions that I have and answer some of the small ones while I’m at it.

I know I’m not alone in my hunger for books to help me find the right questions to ask, and find answers to the ones that I have. I am now in my mid-50s, a classic time for introspection. But any age is a good age for examining your life. Readers from their teens to their 90s have shared with me their desire for a list of books to help guide them.

People have always received life-guiding wisdom from certain types of nonfiction, often from “self-help” books. But all sorts of books can carry this kind of wisdom; a random sentence in a thriller will give me unexpected insight. In fact, novels and works of narrative nonfiction can do something extraordinary that most self-help books can’t: They can increase our capacity for empathy by engaging our imagination as they introduce us to new perspectives.

I also believe that, to paraphrase the Roman lawyer Pliny the Younger, no book is so bad that you can’t find anything in it of interest. You can learn something from the very worst books—even if it is just how crass and base, or boring and petty, or cruel and intolerant the human race can be.

I’m not a particularly disciplined or systematic seeker. I don’t give a great deal of thought to the books I choose—I’ll read anything that catches my eye. Most of the time, when I choose what I’m going to read, it has absolutely nothing to do with improving myself. Especially when I’m at my happiest, I’m unlikely to search for a book to make me happier. But it’s often during these periods of non-seeking that I’ve stumbled across a book that has changed my life.

Sometimes these books have changed me in relatively trivial ways at first, but then in more significant ways later. When I was 5 years old, my parents read to me E.B. White’s 1945 classic, “Stuart Little,” the story of a remarkable mouse born to a human family. The immediate effect was to make me feel that the thing in life I most desperately wanted was a pet mouse. After much pleading, I was given a gerbil for my birthday. (It soon bit me, and I was so upset that I packed a suitcase and ran away from home; I made it 50 yards before I decided to turn back).

Now, when I reflect on “Stuart Little,” I realize this extraordinary tale taught me some powerful lessons. One of them is this: Stuart’s human family doesn’t care a whit that he is a mouse. It’s a tale of radical acceptance—you can be whatever or whoever you are born to be and not risk losing your family. Every child is in some ways different from her or his parents—even if not so different as Stuart is from his.

While my parents gave me some of my earliest favorites, teachers guided me to many of the books that would shape my life.

In middle school, we read Julius Caesar’s “The Gallic War.” This was the start of my learning a great truth: History is long, and I was short. Caesar accomplished more than I ever could and had written about it in timeless works that would be read as long as people read. There was no chance I would possibly leave a mark on the globe that measured up to Caesar’s. Not a bad lesson in humility for a seventh-grader.

In high school, I read “The Odyssey.” It taught me a lesson very different to the one my teachers might have expected, yet one that was in a way a corollary to the lesson I’d learned from Caesar: that you should never be ashamed of being mediocre.

Of course, “The Odyssey” is one of the greatest works of all time. But in telling the story of a very flawed hero, it opens up a different lens on greatness. Even Odysseus himself would have had to admit that he didn’t do a terrific job getting home. Others managed to come right home after the war chronicled in “The Iliad.” It took Odysseus a decade. But he does eventually make it. Coming home was essential, and what’s important is that he managed to do it. Odysseus was superlative at many things, but getting home wasn’t one of them. He was mediocre at that.

The beauty of accepting or even embracing mediocrity is that it helps you appreciate excellence. College introduced me to some of the most astonishing books I’ve ever read, as it should. The experience of reading and studying and revisiting a contemporary masterpiece like Nobel laureate Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” reminds me how thrilling true greatness is, whether in literature or other aspects of life. At the heart of this novel is the migration of a character named Milkman Dead from north to south, the opposite of the 20th century’s “Great Migration” of African-Americans from the rural south to the cities of the north and west. I will never forget the images of flight that are present throughout—flight as escape from peril and as a symbol of freedom; flight by foot and through the air. I envy anyone who has yet to read “Song of Solomon.”

Entering the workforce brought me to a different kind of book. A wise mentor gave meAnne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift From the Sea.” This is a book about priorities. Unlike recent books that focus on decluttering your home, Lindbergh, who had a busy life as an adventurer, pilot, best-selling author and wife of the famous aviator, shows you how to declutter your brain and your life. “The world today does not understand, in either man or woman, the need to be alone,” she wrote in 1955.

A random sentence in a thriller can lead to an unexpected insight.

 

After decades of work, I’ve come to believe that the ability to figure out who has your back and who is plotting against you is an essential skill. Thrillers and works of suspense give us the tools we need to try to figure out whom we can trust. A recent novel, “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins, is particularly valuable. It features a possibly unreliable narrator who isn’t always sure she knows whether she is telling the truth. Sometimes the person I shouldn’t be trusting is myself.

Books have also helped me through the worst times in my life, and no book more so thanCharles Dickens’s “David Copperfield.” My need to figure out a way to cope with my sadness after finishing this novel was a trial run, of sorts, for dealing with the deaths of friends. When, as a young teen, I turned the last page, I found myself sobbing because I thought that was the end of my relationship with David Copperfield, and with Steerforth, and with Little Emily, and with Dora. But I was wrong; it was just the beginning. I think of them all the time, and I talk to them, too—just as I talk to friends who have died and think about them.

Recently, I read a book that is helping me be a better friend: Hanya Yanagihara’s devastating novel “A Little Life.” The story follows the intertwined lives of four men from right after college until middle age. Along the way, we learn about their childhoods and discover that one of them has been the victim of horrific abuse. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel that had so much to say about friendship, or about the ways we can and can’t help one another, or about the importance of staying present in our friends’ lives no matter what.

I also turn to books to help remind me of things I know but constantly forget. “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio is a novel about a boy with a facial deformity who is going to school for the first time. It has a powerful message delivered by the school’s principal. He exhorts his students to “choose kindness.” Quoting J.M. Barrie, he tells them, “Shall we make a new rule of life…always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?” An excellent maxim for fifth-graders—and the rest of us.

And then there is “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” by Azar Nafisi. It is the story of a study group for women that the author led in Tehran in 1995, and it reinforced for me and for so many the power of books and literature. Ms. Nafisi writes, “In all great works of fiction, regardless of the grim reality they present, there is an affirmation of life against the transience of that life, an essential defiance. This affirmation lies in the way the author takes control of reality by retelling it in his own way, thus creating a new world. Every great work of art, I would declare pompously, is a celebration, an act of insubordination against the betrayals, horrors and infidelities of life.”

Rereading this book and others, I’m reminded that reading isn’t just a respite from the relentlessness of technology. It isn’t just how I reset and recharge. It isn’t just how I escape. It’s how I engage. And reading should spur further engagement.

Books remain one of the strongest bulwarks we have against tyranny—but only as long as people are free to read all different kinds of books, and only as long as they actually do so. The right to read whatever you want whenever you want is one of the fundamental rights that helps preserve all the other rights. It’s a right we need to guard with unwavering diligence. But it’s also a right we can guard with pleasure. Reading isn’t just a strike against narrowness, mind control and domination: It’s one of the world’s great joys.

Excerpted from “Books for Living,” which will be published by Knopf next month. Mr. Schwalbe is also the author of “The End of Your Life Book Club.”

Muslims at the Pentagon Brace for Trump Administration


The uncertainty that settled upon many of the citizens in America since the election has not bypassed a lot of these federal workers.  This is what they are fearing.
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PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY LYNE LUCIEN/THE DAILY BEAST

‘ANTICIPATORY FREAKOUT’

Muslims at the Pentagon Brace for Trump Administration

For Muslims inside the national-security apparatus whom the Obama administration welcomed with open arms, fear of Trump is already pervasive, U.S. officials tell The Daily Beast.

NANCY A. YOUSSEF

11.22.16 1:13 AM ET

Donald Trump’s inauguration may be 58 days away, but for the Muslim officials once welcomed into the U.S. government’s war on terrorism, the change already has begun.

Four U.S. officials who spoke to The Daily Beast said fear is pervasive among Muslims inside the halls of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the Department of Homeland Security in anticipation of a Trump administration. Already, the officials said, they are seeing colleagues who are less willing to share their thoughts about national security. They fear they will no longer be seen as an asset to confronting terrorism but rather suspect members of the government they serve.

It is, one U.S. official explained, a climate of “anticipatory freakout.”

Muslim employees at the Pentagon, both civilian and military, were reticent to talk about their fears, even in a building where there are Muslim services every Friday.

“I am scared to speak,” one civilian told The Daily Beast. “We don’t know what it is going to mean for us.”

Will Muslim CIA agents be asked to register? Will the next commander in chief ban the family of Muslim troops from visiting this country? Will Muslim members of the Department of Homeland Security face increased scrutiny based on their faith?

“It’s one thing to attack your argument. It’s another to attack your person. And that is what people fear: that if they speak up too much, they will be attacked,” the U.S. official continued.

“You are less likely to speak up if you are against the prevailing view. Before, that was not a consideration.”

Managers throughout the departments already are trying to calm staffers, reassuring them they will not be treated differently by those around them.

It is not just Muslims who are worried. Gays and lesbians, African Americans, Hispanics, and women all have expressed some level of concern. After all, the national-security community has historically lagged behind other government agencies when it comes to embracing diversity.

It was not until a 1995 executive order that gays and lesbians could serve openly in national-security jobs and get clearances. At the same time, women climbed the ranks of the agencies, most notably in 1997, when Madeleine Albright became the first female secretary of State, the highest national-security position ever held by a woman. Post-9/11, two presidents publicly spoke on behalf of Muslims and said they are a part of the American fabric, not a segment of the population that should be equated with extremists.

According to the White House, minorities now make up 20 percent of senior diplomats and 15 percent of senior military officers and intelligence officials.

Despite that, the fear these days among Muslims especially is born out of both the rhetoric of the election and, more recently, Trump’s picks so far for his national-security team. Ret. Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the incoming national security adviser, has called fear of Muslims “rational.” On Sunday, Reince Priebus said on Meet the Press that while there was no plan for a Muslim registry, “I’m not going to rule out anything.”

Also Sunday, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach met with Trump and was photographed carrying a document spelling out a 100-day plan for the Department of Homeland Security that included a proposal to question “high-risk” immigrants over support for Sharia law and belief in the U.S. Constitution.

Perhaps the most searing interaction between Muslims and Trump, for Muslims who serve in national security, was Trump’s treatment of a Muslim Gold Star family during the presidential campaign. After Khizr Khan—whose son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in Iraq in 2004—spoke at the Democratic National Convention, Trump attacked him and his wife, and insisted that he too had “made a lot of sacrifices.”

The result is a president-elect not welcome in the nation’s mosques.

For some, there already is a litmus test for incoming members of the Trump administration: Will agency heads and Cabinet secretaries let the mistreatment of Muslims or any other minority be tolerated? Some said they hope Congress poses such questions to Flynn during the confirmation hearings.

Either way, the new administration is a marked change. For the Obama administration, diversity within the administration was not just about politics but a means to better secure the country. And officials advocated it aggressively. Departments now are filled with younger staffers, many of whom never anticipated anything other than a government that embraced diversity.

Where minority staffers once were in lower-level jobs, now it is no longer uncommon to see a Muslim in hijab at the table of a high-level meeting.

“I truly believe that the business case for diversity is stronger for CIA than it is for any organization in the U.S. government,” CIA Director John Brennan told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June. “Diversity not only gives us the cultural understanding we need to operate in any corner of the globe, it also helps us avoid groupthink, ensuring we bring to bear a range of perspectives on the complex challenges that are inherent to intelligence work.”

Just last month, President Obama issued a memorandum about “Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the National-Security Workforce” that called for better data about the makeup of national-security employees and to help expand diversity within the national-security community.

There is nothing that binds the incoming president from adhering to any part of the memorandum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What will Humans Look Like in 100 years


I found this online and, being a Star Trek fan, it made me think of the many things the the genre of Sci Fi has brought into the realm of possibility. Cell phones, micro waves, and space travel into deep space. We are beginning to want to find out want is out there.  Planets, stars, nebula, black holes are only the tip of the iceberg. Is there life and what form does it take? Life forms will not look like you and I as we are today. Their evolution will have been different than ours.

 

This brings us to the video about what we, as humans, could evolve to look like in the distant future. I confess to really wishing I could be here to see and interact with the evolved humans. I do not believe that cryogenics, freezing the body, works or I would think about that as a  remedy.

 

Physicist Stephen Hawkins has recently released a statement that his belief is that we humans will live about 1000 more years and then we will have destroyed our planet and possibly ourselves. I respect his work the same as I respect Einstein’s work.

 

The question of what human beings will look like in a hundred years or even a thousand years becomes vital in this context. The evolution of human beings, as described, sounds doable and reasonable. It does not remind one of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It is the natural progression of prosthetics, pacemakers, and hearing aids. I believe that a lot of work in this vein has been done as researchers and scientists scramble to be able to give our returning vets a quality standard of living.

 

There is a synchronicity to this flow, I think. To remain at the status quo is to court disaster for our species.

Namaste

Barbara

 

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Humans of the future?

Humans of the future?

 

 

Or perhaps these humans of the future?

Or perhaps these humans of the future?

Black-crowned night heron video


Beautiful bird Kitty. Hugs, Barbara

Dear Kitty. Some blog

This video from the USA says about itself:

21 November 2016

Black Crowned Night Herons roost low in trees during the day and then take of around dusk for a night of hunting. I was lucky to catch this beautiful bird taking off from its daytime roost. They are unusual for herons with short stout necks and short legs.

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DARK ARE THE NIGHTS


Excellent poetry. I am reblogging it. Hugs, Barbara

SUSANNE LEIST

 

Horror are the nights

when the waves ride high.

Moonlight lights their way

as they move onto shore.

Cold are the nights

when evil rides high.

They stand tall and strong,

ready to attack town.

Dark are the nights

as The Dead ride the waves.

THE DEAD GAME

Kindle

http://amzn.to/1lKvMrP

Nook

http://bit.ly/1lFdqNj

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The Black Middle Class is About to Get Trumped


Three days before Thanksgiving I must admit that there is not much to be thankful for. I am not talking about the election, that we have done ad nauseum, or my aching joints. I am talking about white men and women who are afraid of their black neighbors, co-workers, employees, students, patients, or friends. I am very saddened by this fact; a fact I wanted to disagree with at first, but now I can only sigh and accept.
I know white people who are afraid of black people and who might prefer them to be segregated again or in slavery again. That hurts my heart. I think of black friends over the years and I don’t feel this way and I want to protect them. I guess that is why we are friends.
I don’t want my 9 grandchildren going to school and learning that black people and others are less than. I don’t want them to grow up thinking it is acceptable to hurt anyone else’s feelings with racial slurs and pure meanness. I want them to know that there is nothing to fear. We are all children of the Universe, created from star dust. Some dust is golden, some is golden brown, some is ebony, some has a copper glow and some has a faint whitish glow. It is nothing to fight and kill over. Not ever.
To my friends and readers around the world, I know what Americans are going through doesn’t seem really important in your lives. God knows that life is pretty hectic for families, extended families and friends. When you add wars, bombings and hatred into the equation, well, it becomes a huge puzzle. Perhaps it feels to big to tackle right now. But, that is exactly why white people have to tackle it right now.
We, the white people, have always been the aggressor, the conqueror, the people who committed genocide on people of color around the world. In America, the first Europeans committed genocide, and stole the Indigenous Peoples’ land. Then we came up with the legend of the first Thanksgiving. Puritans and Indians breaking bread together in joy and thanksgiving that the white people were here.
The black people and white people have no such farce to act out. I, for one, intend to assist as many black or other people of color as I can in the next four years,  to help them be safe. I want to help them stand up to the alt-right and the KKK and the everyday bigot and hater. I want every American to live their life in freedom, equality and without fear. I get it that there is a long way to go before that can happen.
I encourage all white Americans, all Liberal Americans, who are not full of insecurities and hatred to spend part of Thanksgiving Day not eating but reviewing your inner landscape and discovering exactly where you are on this most basic of issues. Are you an open and light enough human being to forgive all the “slights” you feel you have experienced?  Can you walk away from anger, hate and racist emotions coming from the President-elect on down?  Can you extend a hand in acceptance and honest friendship to our black brothers and sisters and to the rest of our sisters and brothers of color, and give them the care, love and acceptance that is due them? I hope so. If you cannot, then our brothers and sisters can do nothing but to protect themselves in any way they can, and that only makes us less safe, not more safe. America will have lost much if that occurs.   White people do not get to carry all of the gifts America has been blessed with. We will lose many of those gifts, because your freedom is diminished every time someone loses theirs.  And those losses will be due to closed minds and empty hearts.
Namaste
Barbara
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The Black Middle Class Is About to Get Trumped

Everything we’ve been taught about “success” in this country and nearly every avenue we’ve used to achieve that success are now threatened by the same explicit racism that Donald Trump rode into the White House.

President-elect Donald Trump arrives for an election night party at the New York Hilton in New York City Nov. 9, 2016.

When Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign with a racist tirade against Mexicans, he began the short process of renormalizing the racist sentiments that white people had been taught to hide since integration started 60 years ago. He literallymade it cool for white America to be openly racist again: In just over a year, his campaign and election have drastically undermined more than five decades of integrated racial “progress.”

Now, as Trump fills key administration positions with white nationalist-sympathizing power brokers like Steve Bannon as chief strategist and Jeff Sessions for attorney general, it is clear that the black middle class is in for a very harsh, rude awakening. Because everything we’ve been taught about “success” in this society and nearly every avenue we’ve used to achieve that success are now threatened by the same explicit racism that Trump rode into the White House.

Black Economic Success Skills: Make White People Feel Comfortable

Making white people feel comfortable has always played a role in our survival. On plantations, making them comfortable meant we might delay torture, death or whatever punishment they were thinking of at the moment. During segregation, keeping white discomfort at bay meant avoiding or minimizing the racial violence of angry white mobs. But when integration began, black economic success began to be measured by how well we could integrate into white society, which meant making white people comfortable was now one of the most viable paths to black economic sustainability. That was a mistake.

We see this phenomenon earliest in schools. Black students who excel at making white teachers comfortable tend to be the students who can show their intelligence in ways that white people can easily recognize. It doesn’t mean that they actually are any smarter than the other black students, but that their teachers (80 percent of whom are white women) just feel they are different (i.e., less threatening) from the rest. These students get access to gifted-and-talented classes and opportunities reserved for “special” black children who show “promise.” This system replicates itself throughout higher education and the workforce.

All White Everything

As a result, our entire economic-success model relies on centering whiteness and accessing the resources it provides, which means our most brilliant students risk becoming incapable of addressing black needs.

For example, many “successful” black business students learn economic theory, but have no idea how much the black community spends annually. This means they are ill-prepared to create economic models that capture and reinvest black dollars. Black bankers can work in highly regarded financial institutions, but most don’t set up financial service centers to help generate, protect and grow black wealth.

Successful black doctors can work in white-owned hospitals, but they may never build hospitals that focus on diseases that impact black lives the most. Black research scientists spend their careers becoming experts on issues important to white corporations, but never get to use their expertise to explore issues related to us. Our best and brightest black workers can get jobs on Wall Street, but most can’t create jobs for anyone in the hood.

This “all white everything” approach to economic sustainability may have been fine (it wasn’t) when we had a government constrained by things like anti-discrimination laws and notions of superficial fairness. But that was before a candidate who was fully endorsed by white nationalist groups won the election and created a direct line of communication between white supremacists and the White House.

Now, because of the renewed surge of openly hostile racism stoked by Trump’s campaign, this economic model means the black community will be one of the least prepared for what will come next.

Black Economics in a Trump Era

Before Trump’s campaign, racism at work typically showed up as microaggressions: the “commonplace daily indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate racial slights and insults toward people of color.” If white folks let their racism step out of line, there were laws we could turn to for protection like the Civil Rights Act. These laws were enforced by agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which interprets them and defends victims from discrimination.

After the election, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center have reported that schools and the workplace are the two places reporting the highest number of hateful harassment and intimidation incidents.

It’s not that white people ever stopped being racist, but a delicate web of political correctness, the fear of being called a “racist” (which many hate more than actual racism) and a legal system that espoused a commitment to multiculturalism helped to keep those public displays of racism down to a level most black people could tolerate.

In order for this system to work, however, black professionals had to play their part. Gaining access to white spaces and resources required us to leave our blackness at home when we went to work, attended work functions or otherwise interacted with white people. Each day, we put on “the mask”: the face we show white co-workers to prove we’re not angry, aggressive or any other word used to describe an emotional black person who makes white people uncomfortable.

But none of that will matter in a Trump era because the president-elect’s campaign has empowered the white community to finally be honest about how they really feel when it comes to race. If Jeff Sessions is confirmed as attorney general, his racist ideology will be in charge of the Civil Rights Division. A Trump-era EEOC will be in charge of evaluating claims of workplace discrimination. This means the legal framework that helps to keep workplace racism in check will vanish.

As a natural consequence, white people (whether they’re Ku Klux Klan members or merely harboring implicit bias) will be able to act on those feelings. Once civil rights protections at work fall, there will be no safety net wide enough to protect black workers or our economic security.

Remember, even under integration, white-owned corporations hired as few black people as the law required. Those same companies that can barely tolerate us now, soon won’t have to hire any of us at all. We are entering an era where the very laws that protected us from racial discrimination may become unenforced and essentially nonexistent.

The Solution: Centering on Us

Malcolm X was prophetic when he said: “The white man is too intelligent to let someone else come and gain control of the economy of his community. But you will let anybody come in and control the economy of the community—control the housing; control the education; control the jobs; control the businesses—under the pretext that you want to integrate.”

The only option the black community will have left requires us to center black people as our solution and re-create a culturally grounded economic system based on meeting our own needs. Blacks are one of the largest buying groups, spending over a trillion dollars annually. To protect our community from the threats that loom, we must turn that spending power into job and wealth generators.

According to Ron Busby, president and CEO of U.S. Black Chambers, “There [are] only 1.9 million African-American businesses, but of the 1.9, 1.8 million have no employees. So we only really have 106,000 African-American businesses that have employees. We have to increase that number, and we have to do it with more young people going to work for small businesses in order for there to be production.”

Author Maggie Anderson, (Our Black Year: One Family’s Quest to Buy Black in America’s Racially Divided Economy), stated that 1 million jobs could be created if black households with incomes of $75,000 or more increased spending with black-owned businesses from 3 percent to 10 percent.  This is far better than any governmental policy could ever hope to promise or achieve.

A Trump presidency means that the days of relying on government for legal protections from racism are over. But if we take this opportunity to re-create sustainable black streams of income, job and wealth creation, we may be able to advance farther than many dreamed imaginable. Thankfully, as Marcus Garvey noted: “When all else fails to organize the people, conditions will.” This new age of open racism may be just the mass organizing moment that allows our community to thrive.

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