Monday, July 15, 2013

Two "No"s and a "Yes": tortuous paths to "doing something" -- or not

Yesterday, as soon as I heard my husband gasp when he opened the browser window, I knew. Later, at a writing event when people were looking at me, I quoted LaLasha Murphy: "What do I tell my babies? Run? Play dead? Fake a seizure?" Later, another writer (white, as am I) said, "What you read was like a poem. It's too bad you can't use it." I said, "No, that's hers. I can't use that."*

So my first "No" is: This verdict is about anti-Black racism in the U.S. and the structures that feed it and feed on it. DON'T try to make it about anything else. If you're already not doing that, great -- this statement is, obviously, not directed toward you.

My second "No" is in some ways more indirect. Blogger Ana Mardoll has been posting for the past day or so about the American Legislative Exchange Council, which furthers legislation like the Stand Your Ground law. More about ALEC and the companies that support it (as well as companies that have cut ties) here at its Buycott campaign. Rather than (or in addition to) boycotting, Mardoll recommends writing letters to the companies on the "Companies to Avoid" list whose services you use. I'll be writing to AT&T, my phone carrier. Write to my gmail address, publiclycomplex, if you would like a script for a letter.

My "Yes" is more indirect still. In my classes, I already ask my students to be attentive to the assertions they're making -- to evidence, to source, to interest. Who wants this statement to be true? Why might someone make it, other than its truth? Where does our knowledge come from, and where could it come from? How can we search for voices and beyond the ones that are easiest to hear? So -- more of that.

*With regard to all the actions in this post: I'm listing them as examples of things TO do, NOT because I want "credit" for them or anything weird like that.