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Thoughts On Listening To *This Land Is Your Land”

 

I had a dream today, got me thinking,

On the bus on the way home from work,

A dream I’ve had before,

A dream many have probably had

I was on television, talking and singing,

The whole world was a’ watchin’

Woody Guthrie was a’ watchin’

Pete Seeger, he was a ’watchin’

Bruce Springsteen, he was a ’watchin’

And old orange face, Mr. Trump, he was a ’watchin’ too

Kept droppin’ the big TV remote outta his small hands, poor thing,

Anyways, like I said, I was on TV,

Had a guitar in my hands,

Strapped over my favorite flannel shirt,

And my favorite pair of Levis

And my bestest boots. I was a’ wearing all of that

And the song I was gonna sing,

This Land Is Your Land,

Well it weren’t no regular song, sir,

It was, I reckon, one of the most beautiful songs

I ever heard, I was telling people about it,

It was all about this country of ours,

And all its’ natural beauty,

And how it was built for you,

And built for me

And how it was built for him,

And him,

And her

And her

And the preacher

And the doctor

And the lawman

And the bus driver

And the children playing in the schoolyard,

Sir it was built for them too,

It didn’t make no mention of names

Nor what school they went to,

Nor even if they didn’t go to school, well it didn’t mention that neither

Nor what church they go to, who they pray to, iffn they pray at all,

No, sir, not even where they come from,

Not which part of town, not which coast,

Not which country,

Cuz everybody here comes from someplace else in the long run, don’t they?

Iffn ya trace it back far enough, I mean, we all come from immigrants

– Well, almost all of us –

Yes, sir, the song was plain and simple and beautiful, and indeed

This here land was made for you, and me, and him, and him, and her, and her

All to share equally, don’t that sound like a place you wanna live in, sir?

I know I would, if I could find it.

What say we find it together, sir?

 

 

Click the link below to listen to This Land is Your Land – Live by Bruce Springsteen
https://open.spotify.com/track/4MvJlIpDpdZi4sCXvAhrym

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I have a new favorite song!! The lyrics are strong but so very correct. We all know, or most of us know, or have met at least one racist in our lives, or someone who is “soft” about racism. They tell you they aren’t, but laugh at racist jokes, maybe even tell them, but they assure you, they “don’t believe this way”. I remember when I lived in NW Portland. I had just repainted and refurnished my flat. I threw a party. A boyfriend of one of my cowokers told me and my guests a racist joke, he made sure he had everyones attention. I was mortified!! I looked him right in the eye and told him that racism is forbidden in my house and my life. I asked him why he would think it was acceptable. We had never met before that night. I apologized to my coworker and tgen told him he needed to leave, immediately. He then said that he “wasn’t that way, but wanted to see my reaction”. I responded; ” Well, now you’ve seen it. I hope you hesitate the next time you want to tell such a crass joke”. 

This is one of the strongest ways to help people realize just how unacceptable racism is. It hits in the head like a baseball bat and we need to stand up with all of our strength against it. The more we make it known PRECISELY how unnacceptable it is, the more uncomfortable it becomes. Education is a strong tool. Use it in positive ways. Use it with strength.  

Here are the lyrics; 
If you have a racist friend

Now is the time, now is the time

For your friendship to end

Be it your sister, be it your brother

Be it your cousin, or your uncle, or your lover

If you have a racist friend

Now is the time, now is the time

For your friendship to end

Be it your best friend, or any other

Is it your husband, or your father, or your mother

Either change their views

Or change your friends

If you have a racist friend

Now is the time, now is the time

For your friendship to end

So if you know a racist who thinks he is your friend

Now is the time, now is the time

For your friendship to end

Call yourself my friend

Now is the time to make up your mind

Don’t try to pretend

Be it your sister, be it your brother

Be it your cousin, or your uncle, or your lover

So if you have a racist friend

Now is the time, now is the time

For our friendship to end

#NowPlaying Racist Friend – P3 Version by Naomi Pilgrim 

https://open.spotify.com/track/72OqDR7ynES3bChfTMNRzW

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With, of course, all due respect to the brilliance of Gil Scot Heron, this time the revolution WILL be televised, send around the world live as a show of solidarity for all our brothers and sisters as they face their own struggle against the forces of facism and oppression, eager to wake to a new dawn where gender, race, sexuality, intellect, looks, nor religion are no longer a factor in determining one’s self-worth nor the individuals contribution to society. The revolution will be televised. It will be sponsored by the prayers of mothers in Aleppo, the fears of children in Gaza, the cries of hungry children of unemployed factory workers in Detroit and Portland, by the pain of migrant workers in the vineyards of California, by the single mother working three jobs to feed her child because some Trump- loving bureaucrat with no heart cut the funding that helped pay her rent while she finished her high school degree, the revolution will be televised the revolution will be televised the revolution will be televised. The revolution will be live!! #NowPlaying the revolution will be televised by Dan Hass https://open.spotify.com/user/danandinger/playlist/4bnyLrSGvNVfBEhNrUDOK0

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I see my father sleeping

The only peace he knows is sleep

Should we wake him?

I see him sleeping

And recall my youthful dreams of him.

All dreams, I suppose, begin in youth.

The young can afford to dream.

Smokestacks become cathedral spires,

Then our aspirations, fueled by the noble half of our nature,

Grow higher, less noble, less precise,

And ultimately, out of reach.

Shall we tease him, throwing stones at his front door

And then run away like children?

Or shall we seek out others,

Who blindly rest, secure in his bosom,

Enticing them to fight our fights against him,

By tempting their fears and prejudices,

Knowing all the while that he will protect us?

But our father sleeps

Wishing to share the dreams

Of the children he has lost

But in his slumber, he cannot protect

Those who die in the streets everyday.

 

I see the other dreams vanishing also,

I see them vanishing on the faces of children who cannot eat,

Of adults who cannot read,

In the despair of a nation that cannot hope

I see America dazed and I don’t know why
I see America sleeping

Weeping, angry, I look upon that which I once called Father

And I see the blissful ignorance that only sleep can provide

A noble, slumbering, drunken giant such as him,

Asleep  on an ashen bed that once was our hopes,

But I cannot forget, I cannot forgive,

And I want to whisper into his good ear the words

“WAKE UP”

I wrote this a number of years ago. I believe it might have been during George Bush “the lessers” administration. I suppose the text more or less speaks for itself as to my intent and thought at the time. But when I read it now, it seems  to be still naive, still wanting America to be something like a Rockwell painting, or in the spirit of Whitman s’ poem “I Hear America Singing” where, to quote the cliffs notes review;

“The poet thinks of America as the “centre of equal daughters, equal sons,” who are “strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable,” and who identify themselves with “Freedom, Law and Love.” He salutes America as the “grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,” who is “chair’d in the adamant of Time.”

This short poem is a reassertion of the poet’s faith in the destiny of the American nation. It demonstrates his love of the masses, his devotion to democracy, and his belief that in responding to the call of a democratic process, America is fulfilling a spiritual need of her people.”  ( Link is here; https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/l/leaves-of-grass/summary-and-analysis-calamus/america)

Perhaps I still saw my homeland with the blinders of white privilege. Perhaps I still hadn’t thought far enough ahead to foresee the possibility that America could ever elect such a nepotist, such a fascist, a racist, and a disgustingly misogynist president. I hadn’t foreseen at that time the divisions that are ripping our nation apart or that such enormous division could even take place in this country with such high ideals to the point where one candidate could ever call the supporters of the other “deplorable”.

I’m not disagreeing with Hillary about that point, to be frank. I was and still am, in total agreement with that perception and was more than a bit disappointed when she apologized for saying it, although I understood completely.

I suppose what makes me sad when i reread this poem now, is that I don’t see America ever getting back to what the founding fathers had in mind.I don’t see our racial divides closing. I don’t see prejudice of any kind dwindling out of our consciousness. I don’t see the poor being fed, the illiterate being taught,I don’t see the immigrants being welcomed and given a new beginning. I don’t see poverty ending. I don’t see the homeless camps in the cities coming down. I remember being so disappointed when I heard a family member saying how much he hated them, how he would get almost violently angry when he drove by them. I don’t see America ever again telling immigrants to “give us your poor, your tired, your hungry” or at least if they did say it, i couldn’t believe in the earnestness of it without being very afraid of what those who have struggled might face upon arrival.What persecution they will face, what  hatred which was once unthinkable but now so commonplace will they face. Sadly, even the handicapped are not immune to ridicule, as the now infamous video clip proves. As Meryl Streep pointed out so well, whether or not it was the “Orangemans” intent to ridicule is secondary to the fact that by doing what he did, it now became acceptable to the rest of his deplorables.Bullying was immediately changed from something we were trying to eliminate to acceptable in one thoughtless moment. He has been shown numerous times publicly inciting his followers to violence against those who disagree with him, He has shown in simple terms the most vile contempt against any who have the courage to point to his many “mistakes of judgement”.

If America is to have any chance of returning to it’s ideals, or should I say finding them for the first time, it cannot sit idly by. It needs all of us to be watchful and alert. It needs all of us to refute and refuse to accept Trumps ideals as our own. It needs idols. It needs statespeople. It needs to find the strength to stand up. It needs, more than ever, to WAKE UP!!

 

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A very interesting, disturbing article about the rise of hate crimes in America in 2016, with a focus on the post-election trauma. The article states that ;”The Southern Poverty Law Center has found more than 1,000 reports of hate incidents since the election.The group counted 1,094 reports of harassment and intimidation between Nov. 9 and Dec. 12. According to Ms. Beirich, this number is unusually high, more than the group would usually see over a six-month period.“

This is, to be honest, to be expected when a populist racist is elected. Particularly one who continues to incite on every occasion and has accepted the endorsement of the likes of David Duke. As I said, the numbers are alarming and I am very worried that they will do nothing but increase as the deplorables sense their power increasing.

Here is the link to the article:The Scope of Hate in 2016

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A fascinating look at White Privilege, Buddhism and teaching. The authour, Tara Brach, is the daughter of ” an attorney who practiced a lot of civil rights law, and he had a very racially mixed group of friends, which was quite unusual at the time. In grammar school, I was one of five white kids in an otherwise African American school. I’ve also lived for extended periods of time as an outsider, including wearing religious garb—all-white clothing and a turban—for ten years. So I assumed that I was somewhat awake to these issues, but I got the rug pulled out from under me thanks to some friends of mine in the D.C. area who started letting me know what life was really like for people of color, beyond my bubble of experience.”

The article continues to describe how she learned from her non-white friends about white privilege, about racial profiling, about a decision by a black mother not to raise her children on the thought of hope, but instead, “I want to give my son fear. I want him to be afraid, because I am scared to death that he’s going to either get arrested or killed every time he leaves the house.” She didn’t want her son being cocky or oblivious to the risks he faced as a young African American male—she’d rather he be scared and alive. I had assumed that doors would open for my son, that he’d have opportunities and that he could take advantage of those opportunities if he trusted himself. I realized that my assumption was white privilege.”

This is a truly thoughtful article, well written and provoking in a very informative way. White privilege is a construct that is so deeply embedded in our society that it will take perhaps generations to dislodge, but the truth is that we have to start somewhere. The best place perhaps to start is within us. By educating ourselves, we can then help with the education process to raise awareness and erode centuries of damage, distrust and prejudice, but we need to be self-aware first. We need to know how it affects us individually and as a member of a racist society.

I truly urge all to read this article, reflect on her experience and ask yourselves about your own perspective. How can you use this to grow?

 

Here is the link..;When Tara Brach came to recognize her own white privilege, it revealed painful blind spots. That changed her as a dharma teacher and leader. Artwork by Hildy Maze.

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Sarah Palin, one who has never been know for having a keen, inquiring mind nor the sharpest of intellects, showed her true “colors” the other day, and the Trumpettes are falling directly in line. The former governor of Alaska and Vice-Presidential nominee was quoted as saying that we should boycott the Mall of America on the grounds that, and I quote, “Santa was always white in the Bible”.

How nice of her to make me aware of that fact. Obviously there’s been a gap in my education somewhere, hard to think of where though. I guess I must have been absent on the day they taught racist idiocy.

Anyway, if you’re curious what she had to say, and actually you should read it because the Trumpettes believe every word this fool says, Here’s the link; Sarah Paling Calls To Boycott Mall of America

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The article below was taken from The New Yorker,  follow this link for more..  Mourning for Whiteness

Mourning for Whiteness

By Toni Morrison

This is a serious project. All immigrants to the United States know (and knew) that if they want to become real, authentic Americans they must reduce their fealty to their native country and regard it as secondary, subordinate, in order to emphasize their whiteness. Unlike any nation in Europe, the United States holds whiteness as the unifying force. Here, for many people, the definition of “Americanness” is color.

Under slave laws, the necessity for color rankings was obvious, but in America today, post-civil-rights legislation, white people’s conviction of their natural superiority is being lost. Rapidly lost. There are “people of color” everywhere, threatening to erase this long-understood definition of America. And what then? Another black President? A predominantly black Senate? Three black Supreme Court Justices? The threat is frightening.

In order to limit the possibility of this untenable change, and restore whiteness to its former status as a marker of national identity, a number of white Americans are sacrificing themselves. They have begun to do things they clearly don’t really want to be doing, and, to do so, they are (1) abandoning their sense of human dignity and (2) risking the appearance of cowardice. Much as they may hate their behavior, and know full well how craven it is, they are willing to kill small children attending Sunday school and slaughter churchgoers who invite a white boy to pray. Embarrassing as the obvious display of cowardice must be, they are willing to set fire to churches, and to start firing in them while the members are at prayer. And, shameful as such demonstrations of weakness are, they are willing to shoot black children in the street.

To keep alive the perception of white superiority, these white Americans tuck their heads under cone-shaped hats and American flags and deny themselves the dignity of face-to-face confrontation, training their guns on the unarmed, the innocent, the scared, on subjects who are running away, exposing their unthreatening backs to bullets. Surely, shooting a fleeing man in the back hurts the presumption of white strength? The sad plight of grown white men, crouching beneath their (better) selves, to slaughter the innocent during traffic stops, to push black women’s faces into the dirt, to handcuff black children. Only the frightened would do that. Right?

These sacrifices, made by supposedly tough white men, who are prepared to abandon their humanity out of fear of black men and women, suggest the true horror of lost status.

It may be hard to feel pity for the men who are making these bizarre sacrifices in the name of white power and supremacy. Personal debasement is not easy for white people (especially for white men), but to retain the conviction of their superiority to others—especially to black people—they are willing to risk contempt, and to be reviled by the mature, the sophisticated, and the strong. If it weren’t so ignorant and pitiful, one could mourn this collapse of dignity in service to an evil cause.

The comfort of being “naturally better than,” of not having to struggle or demand civil treatment, is hard to give up. The confidence that you will not be watched in a department store, that you are the preferred customer in high-end restaurants—these social inflections, belonging to whiteness, are greedily relished.

So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble.

On Election Day, how eagerly so many white voters—both the poorly educated and the well educated—embraced the shame and fear sowed by Donald Trump. The candidate whose company has been sued by the Justice Department for not renting apartments to black people. The candidate who questioned whether Barack Obama was born in the United States, and who seemed to condone the beating of a Black Lives Matter protester at a campaign rally. The candidate who kept black workers off the floors of his casinos. The candidate who is beloved by David Duke and endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.

William Faulkner understood this better than almost any other American writer. In “Absalom, Absalom,” incest is less of a taboo for an upper-class Southern family than acknowledging the one drop of black blood that would clearly soil the family line. Rather than lose its “whiteness” (once again), the family chooses murder.

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Harriet Tubman On The Hilltops Of Heaven

 

Prayed as she tossed stones down

Into the valley of remembrance.

And each she offered with a prayer,

A word of blessing to each name

Written one by one on each stone.

 

To those both named and unnamed,

The mild and the strong,

The wretched and the saints.

To each life ripped away by hatred

Those who empowered

Those who oppressed

Everyone who hid behind walls

Those who stood to be counted

Those who were beaten down.

Those who saw their own death

Written in front of their eyes

On burning crosses

Spread across Mother Earths bosom.

Who saw their children’s souls ascend and

Cried the tears of Virgin Mary.

Those who at the moment of death

Saw their own fate reflected

In the futures of their children.

Those whose lives were filled with fear,

Those who heard unforgotten words of hate

In their dead ears for centuries.

Those who touched the sky,

Those who could barely crawl,

Those killed because they ran,

Those hung from trees,

Those dragged into the earth,

Those whose wounds bled for generations.

Those who believed blindly,

Those who suffered the lies in silence,

And those who knew a lie for a lie

And died trying to teach.

 

When she ran out of stones

Her cry was heard throughout the universe

For there were so many more names than stones

 

 

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I will see nothing
But the children of peace
Their hair spread against the wind
Like the wings of angels

I will hear nothing
From the tombs of your dead
But the voices from my own thoughts
Like the salve of the ages

I will not open my door
To you as a visitor
Bringing your unrepentant anger
To my thirsty soul

I will no longer dance
With you parents of war
Your darkness blots out
The light from my feet

I will not see your world
Nor read your newspaper
Not hear your symphony
I will not say your prayers
But those which I make myself
The words of empowerment
The songs of unison

I will not drink at your table
I will not eat of your meat
You have no nourishment
To offer such a one as I

The end of the world
As you know it
Will be our only salvation

I will not die
Until we, all of us,
Can die under peaceful skies
Our souls drifting quietly across the sunset
Like a shroud of the finest linen

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