Class reductionist undermining of BLM
from 2014, on my old blog
Friday, December 19, 2014
Imagination Shall Make Us Free!
In a Facebook post, Nyle Fort, wrote of the difficulty of seeing past the neoliberal simulacra to find what is real. Maybe it helps to see this, not as binary opposites, but different *kinds* of real. In the way a fictional character is real, *as* a fictional character– which nonetheless has real generative effects.
The spectacle, too, is real, but a reality whose generative effects impair both thought and perception in such a way that we cannot see past the simulacra, or imagine, while in its thrall, another kind of reality. That suggests to me, that the way to another reality–one we can inhabit in the fullness of our human being–is not like breaking through a curtain to something that lies there, already existing, on the other side, but in the very power of imagination on which the illusion depends, that our hope lies in knowing that that power is immeasurably greater than what has been drawn on by the oppressive system holding us hostage. Like in the Faerie Queene–the flames surrounding Busirane’s castle, real enough to burn Scudamore–because he believes they are the wrong kind of real, a reality over which he has no power, while Britomart walks through them unscathed. It’s our collective belief in the simulacra that makes it ‘real’ — that is, gives it power to generate effects–in that way, challenging collective beliefs is the very essence of the work of the imagination.
We do not dance as relief from fighting oppression; we dance, because out of the dance, come the flames of passion that will burn the citadels of our oppressors. We do not sing or paint or rap or create stories to escape from one illusion to another–but TO IMAGINE THE REAL WE DESIRE, THAT WE MIGHT CREATE IT AND MAKE IT SO!
I went to an audiologist this afternoon. This is what I’ve been thinking.
Deaf,” and “Hard of Hearing”, are not medical terms. There is no line on the audiogram to mark where one ends and the other begins. 1500 Hz and higher, I fall into the “moderately severe” range. Lower frequencies, mild to moderate loss.… but how does that translate as experience? Complicting this: deaf, and HoH are not measurments, but places you occupy on different social scales–in effect, Identites.
And Deaf, with a capital ‘D’ designates a culture, as distinguished from just… deaf. Which means, you hear little or nothing… not fluent in Sign… and exist somewhere outside of both worlds: Hearing and Deaf.
Deaf, capital ‘D’ I should add, can include people with normal hearing. CODAs, for instance: Children of Deaf adults. This is not line and symbols on an audiograph.Oh yes–deaf, or Deaf, is not the absense of sound. There are degrees of sound reception, and very few who are ‘deaf’, measure out at ZERO receptive hearing.
So what then, is HoH? More like… the degree to which you don’t belong?
To which, you don’t belong to the Hearing World, with all the expectations and privilege and bias that go along with that?
About, privilege, isn’t it?Understanding “privilege,” is so helpful in getting this–getting, that it’s not a measurment on the audiogram, but an experience of exclusion–of being excluded. That’s where so much of the frustration comes from–cause the way Privilege works, is that it’s invisible to those carry it. And if you’re a newby in some Excluded Territory (late deaf, recently wheel-chaired… ) it isn’t always clear who or what is at fault in the frustration and discrimination that follows. Maybe even, if you’re born into that zone. Born black. Queer. Falling into self-blame… self-hatred… or free floating anger and anxiety … is all too easy. It can kill you.
Same for any form of privilege, isn’t it?
Patriarchy, White suprmacy, homophobia, ableism. You know them by their negative faces. You know them… as their designated outsider, their designated Other. The Privileged don’t see or feel it–and pointing it out to them can provoke enything from passive denial to homocidal rage. The other side of Privilege is a Dangerous Place… it can get you killed … the cop who shoots the driver who couldn’t hear the order to roll down the window. And on and on and on….Which takes me back to my audiology tests this afternoon. I knew they wouldn’t answer the quetions that had been floating around in my mind, questions I couldn’t quite formulate — but I needed to look at the numbers, at that graph, if only to get what it was that the tests were not going tell me, what it was I’ve been living, how I’ve come to experience myself as Other, in relation to the Hearing World–in relation to that particular form of privilege–so hard to see, because it had once been MY privilege, invisible to me!
I think I get it now… what it means… what I mean, when I say that I’m ‘hard of hearing,’ And I’m beginning to see now the privilege involved in being HoH, and not deaf… which is another degree of Otherness.
I see how, even while I’ve been Othered by the Hearing, I still possess a degee of belonging, a level of participation in the Hearing World, that Deaf/deaf, do not–and THIS is why I’ve been uncomfortable with… why the posiblity of going deaf–losing ALL the privilege of the Hearing, feels (in my imagination), like FREEDOM…. because the relationship of Other to Privileged is parallel to that of Colonized, to Collonizer! It’s THAT complicated!
Saying, “I am hard of hearing,” locates me, places me in one particular place in the broader spectrum of our oppressive social relations. This is no longer, my personal, individual problem. This is why getting a hearing aid– isn’t jut about affordability–but involves so much more! Now … NOW I can begin to sort this out. Now I can begin to THINK about what this means!Hearing aids: my difficulty with this, has not been primarily about cost and availability–but with what determines that availability. If the solution to ‘fixing’ our hearing, is focused on each individual, each person-it will be limited to seeking solutions from our individual place in the social and economic order, dependent on that system and that order, the very one which CREATES and MAINTAINS the ‘disability,’ by offering the privilege of normative ability and its privileges only to those who have been ‘fixed,’ that is–made to resemble the normative standard.
When we know, from the Martha’s Vineyard experience, that this distinction is constructed and unnecessary, when EVERYONE, hearing and deaf, are taught sign language together–a rich and expressive language that adds to the experience and understanding of what it means to be human–beyond the privileged, normativity that creates discrimination and makes borders that create and exclude everything that falls outside as OTHER. Dependence on these technilogical devices, without the revolutionary educational reform that would teach SIGN univerally, is a colonizer solution to maintain power over the colonized.
The question is — what are we trying to fit into? How is it, that our social world is structured around a relationship to power that makes us outsiders. If we are made to feel like we have to search for an identity–it’s because we’ve lost the identity we thought we had–and the privilege it gave us.
Why I think learning ASL is so important–even if we never become fluent. That’s taking power for ourselves, claiming our own identity, rather than begging for fixes to make us function again like the very system that denies us equal status, the Normative system that “Others” us.
Good. Lets make hearing aids affordable for all–but at the same time, raise our awareness of how this ableist system works so we can create our OWN identity, and become good allies and advocates for others, with other kinds of excluding conditions.
July.. yet another warmest ever month.
What are doing about it? What am I doing about it? I don’t know–but neither of us can do shit alone. We have to come together and shut everything down. EVERYTHING. Those in power are out to kill us all.. including themselves, if they weren’t too fucking stupid to see it.
There is no time for measured well thought out incremental actions.
It’s *%$$@ shit up and *&44^ shit down…. there’s nothing to lose. We’ve already lost!
Consider yourself already dead–no–look at your children if you have any–they are going to die miserably before their times. Because you didn’t do shit to stop this.
It will happen. Every second you hesitate to take up full scale revolutionary action–is condemning them to suffer what no generation has ever suffered before.. and never will again. Cause there’ll be no one left.
243 years ago, a bunch of white slave holders, declared independence from the English prohibition of the slave trade, waged genocidal war on native inhabitants, and created what has become, the most violent and destructive nation State in history.
If some great flash of understanding were to come over the whole population of the earth — if however billion humans there are on the planet now–were suddenly to see as clearly as Greta Thunberg what we are facing in the not at all distant future–hundreds of millions would drop what they were doing, leave their jobs, leave their studies and schools, abandon their cars, take up crutches and walkers and stream out of hospitals and nursing homes… take to the streets–not to demonstrate, but to charge the corporate masters–the climate deniers, their political servants– accepting whatever horrendous losses their defenders might unleash, swarming over them, destroying them utterly… in the slim hope that a remnant might survive to begin again…
… it would be their rule and custom, if they should succeed, that anyone who mentioned the word ‘profit,’ who ever again should seek to gain advantage over their neighbor, they would be set upon and torn to pieces and fed to rats as a warning.
That’s what I imagine, when I try to think what a just response to this crisis would look like.
That would be a just end to capitalism.
… in Baltimore, after street theater by Media Mobilizing Project at the inner harbor, I followed the march to City Hall, led by a band with a New Orleans sound, shedding bits of costume and streamers along the way. At some point I picked up some ribbons and feathers, and tied them to the tree branch walking stick I was carrying.
It was magic.
In the days and weeks that followed, I began to add to the stick, things I found on the street: ribbons, strings, can tabs…
It changed my life.
I lost that one, my Shaman Stick… and almost every year since, would lose another one. Reading on the bus or El, lost in my thoughts. Each time–back to Morris Park to find another branch. Dress it in what I would find, or people would give me to hang on it.
This is the one I carry now. The sixth or seventh one… I lose count. I mended it when it broke.. like my own broken leg. Screwed metal strips to hold he break. Wrapped strips of canvas, soaked in Modpodge, around the wound. Like a permanent cast (the orange band in the middle).
At some point, as I add Found Things to each new stick, the magic of the first one–the Shaman Stick–finds it’s way to the new one. I don’t usually take it with me to demonstrations… Cops. But I did today… and on the way home, remembered… that it’s been ten years. May Day.
Magic is real.
I deplore the use of false comparisons to scold or draw attention to this or that problem, versus another, perceived to be of lesser importance. These all presume some zero-sum equivalence, where there are insufficient resources, material, economic or social, to attack both, when, if this is so, it is only because this presumes a status quo of capitalist, political conditions, where the the application of resources to ANY given problem, will result in withholding resources from another–maintaining an equilibrium of injustice.
All these–“why are you asking to give to x, and not y?” in that larger context, are false equivalences, and if that logic applied to anything, it would be, ‘why are you asking to devote resources to x, when the only thing that’s going to matter in not so distant future, is climate change?”
The real question for any problem, is how do we apply our resources in such a way that it will address the root causes for all these problems–overcoming and replacing the entire capitalist political/ecomomic/social/military/colonialist system? How do we CHANGE the role played by each and any of the specific problems, in that system?.
30″ x 48″ (77x122cm) Acrylic on canvas. For the Stonewall 50th anniversary Invitational
in June. Marsha P. Johnson, Jackie Hormona, Zasou Nova, Marty Robinson, Morty Manford, Robin Souza and Silvia Rivera: names engraved in this painting, some visible, some not, but all–and all who joined the uprising, present in love and gratitude for their courage and rage.