#ThisIsNotNormal | When They Found Me I Wasn’t There | A Hateful Ideology | Only Light Can Do That | Identity politics of whiteness


“I teach poetry to incarcerated
Boys [ages 15-19]. They
Are sons // & fathers // & brothers // & lovers
& thieves [Just like me]
They want to learn
How to write
How to take the pain & make it beautiful.”

PHOTOS: From James Cohan, Trenton Doyle Hancock, When They Found Me I Wasn’t There, Version #2 (2016), Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 72 × 72 in

Source: Trenton Doyle Hancock | When They Found Me I Wasn’t There, Version #2 (2016) | Artsy



A Hateful Ideology:  In a short new documentary, The Atlantic captures the white nationalism and anti-Semitism of the alt-right movement and its leader, Richard Spencer, during a recent conference in Washington, D.C. (You probably saw our viral video of Spencer receiving Nazi salutes to his cry of “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”) Why cover such an ugly worldview? One possible answer is that acknowledging hateful beliefs makes it much more possible to fight them—especially when such beliefs may be more widespread than many people think.


Only Light Can Do That

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On November 9th, 2016 we woke up to sexism, racism, bigotry, and hate. We woke up a divided country.

While some of us woke up with a bitter taste on our tongues, in denial, and scared — others woke up safe, with a newfound sense of hope in our country, and a determination to “Make America Great Again.” Others woke up to a call to action. Continue reading


ONLY LIGHT CAN DO THAT copies are $15.00 and benefit The Rattling Wall, PEN Center USA, and free expression/literary arts projects. ONLY LIGHT CAN DO THAT can be purchased online at penusa.org.


‘White’ is a category that has afforded people an evasion from race, rather than an opportunity to confront it.

The identity politics of whiteness.

“Identity” is a vexing word.  It is racial or sexual or national or religious or all those things at once. Sometimes it is proudly claimed, other times hidden or denied. But the word is almost never applied to whiteness. Racial identity is taken to be exclusive to people of color: When we speak about race, it is in connection with African-Americans or Latinos or Asians or Native People or some other group that has been designated a minority. “White” is seen as the default, the absence of race.  In school curriculums, one month is reserved for the study of black history, while the rest of the year is just plain history; people will tell you they are fans of black or Latin music, but few will claim they love white music.

This year’s election has disturbed that silence.


In the News

Cape Town slave descendants share stories of strength
Peter Lykke Lind, 9 December 2016, AljazeeraCape Town, South Africa – When Ruben November’s great-great grandfather Zyzer arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, at the beginning of the 19th century, like many other slaves, he was stripped of everything – his clothes, his papers, his identity.He was given a new name: Zyzer November. November indicated the month of his arrival. All other slaves were named in a similar manner.

The name was passed down through the generations to Ruben, one of the 12 faces portrayed in a calendar and exhibition currently showing at the Izikio Slave Lodge Museum, in Cape Town, “My Naam is Februarie: Identities Rooted in Slavery”.



Why We Need a National Monument to Reconstruction
Gregory P. Downs, Eric Foner and Kate Masur, December 14, 2016, The New York Times

Although Americans are already looking ahead to the next presidential administration, President Obama retains the power to shape his legacy and our nation in his remaining weeks in office. He has already used his final months to create several national monuments, and we urge him to create another, one that will speak as much to the nation’s present and future as it does to its past: the first national monument dedicated to Reconstruction — the turbulent, misunderstood era after the Civil War — in Beaufort, S.C., which has one of the country’s highest concentrations of Reconstruction-related sites.

Work on the monument is already underway. Community leaders in Beaufort have submitted a formal request to the National Park Service for a monument that encompasses key sites of emancipation and postwar community-building. In May, two South Carolina representatives — James Clyburn, a Democrat, and Mark Sanford, a Republican — sponsored a resolution to establish a national monument to the Reconstruction era. And last month, a group of 17 historians who have been helping the National Park Service study Reconstruction, as well as the American Historical Association and other professional historical groups, endorsed this effort.



‘We can’t have a situation where Flint is always next’: How one Democrat got a GOP Congress to help his home town
Mike DeBonis December 13, 2016, The Washington Post

The 114th Congress wrapped up its work in the wee hours Saturday morning after a partisan clash briefly raised fears of a government shutdown. Most stories reported that Democrats lost their bid to preserve health benefits for coal miners and a requirement for American-made steel in federal water projects. But they secured a victory that didn’t make headlines but represented the culmination of more than a year’s work: At least $170 million in aid for the beleaguered city of Flint, Mich.

Flint’s drinking water has been largely undrinkable after a 2014 cost-cutting decision to switch water sources caused lead to leach out of supply pipes. Since then, the Michigan congressional delegation — led by Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters and Rep. Daniel Kildee, all Democrats — have pushed the federal government to step up and help a poor, majority-black American city in crisis.



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