Getting Somewhere: A Novel Beginning

"Getting Somewhere" by Michelle Renee Matisons.

“Getting Somewhere” by Michelle Renee Matisons.

While our social movements depend on the idea that people can change their ways of thinking in the “right conditions”, the study of political consciousness is a thorny bramble of contradictions, pseudo-scientific speculation, and pop-psychology — for the most part.  Marxist theory initially located the origins of revolutionary class consciousness in the workers’ relationship to the means of production, but proletarian consciousness did not lead to the inevitable revolution of the means of production and the abolition of private property — as Marx expected.  Thus, “consciousness” became one of the great challenges of twentieth century Marxist theory, with Lenin offering the theory of the vanguard party as a solution, and the Frankfurt School offering its “Culture Industry” theory to analyze revolutionary proletarian consciousness, or lack thereof.

Flash forward to the post-Civil Rights era’s new social movements. Consciousness remains a central theme, as revolutionary organizers seek to expand movements by appealing to people’s instinctual desire for freedom, despite the obstacles blocking the realization of this desire– especially the Cointelpro-enhanced state. Black Panthers emphasized the need for self-defense, popular education, and community organization around food, housing, and healthcare needs to form revolutionary consciousness. Some women’s liberationists employed “consciousness raising” circles as a tool for mass movement building. Both movements were infiltrated and persecuted, the Panthers to a much greater degree, but they (along with all other anti-imperialist movements of that time) leave a treasure trove of theory and practice that successive generations should relish as a great gift.

Today we grapple with the legacy of these movements as we scramble to apply relevant past lessons to the rapidly changing world around us: a renewed focus on murders by police parallel Donald Trump’s ascendancy in presidential polls. Strange days, indeed, but let’s not get sidetracked.

Once ballots get counted and election dust settles, we are left with our same problems, and our own devices, too. How do people come to think what they think? What moves us as individuals? Collectively? What causes people to change their minds about the world, politics, and their own complicity or engagment with it all? Just as Angela Davis stated that the purpose of demonstrations is to demonstrate something, the purpose of movements is to move us somewhere new. Movements rely on the idea of motion: yet we can’t go anywhere unless people desire change and are willing to take risks and make sacrifices in the process. We have to collectively participate in the cause of universal freedom, while also retaining what’s unique about ourselves, our families, our communities, and our histories.

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My debut novel, Left to Our Own Devices (LOOD), is motivated by these questions.  How do we get from inertia to motion, individually and collectively? From demoralizing stagnation to liberating movement?

LOOD is narrated by a white “disabled” (a term she  prefers) woman, Estelle Peters, who leaves her caregiver husband. Inspired only generally by my own mother’s decades long battle with the same disease, Estelle suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and is paralyzed from the waist down with the use of her right arm. Although physically confined to either a hospital bed or wheelchair, her mind compensates for this confinement by going all over the place. The mother of one adult-age son and two daughters, who are both partnered with Black men, Estelle gets an intimate introduction to contemporary race relations through her daughters’ own eyes.  That’s the backdrop of the novel’s plotline, which is set in the Florida panhandle’s Bay County in the days before Occupy and Black Lives Matter.

The other factor in Estelle’s life that challenges her to question all of her assumptions about the world she thought she lived in is the incarceration of Jamal, her radical daughter Azalea’ s life partner. Azalea and Jamal bring their hefty college experience as organizers in Atlanta and D.C. to the sleepy towns of Lynn Haven/ Panama City, Fl. Eventually, Jamal is locked up on assault charges for a bar fight defending himself against a “racist cracker” at a local karaoke bar. Azalea and Jamal believe his charges and incarceration are politically motivated due to his earlier activism around the case of Martin Lee Anderson’s murder. Estelle agrees with them: her blinders have been lifted. She may be unable to walk, but Estelle’s vision is just fine.

Meanwhile, Estelle’s conservative husband, Richard, grows more formal and  removed from their relationship: she grows suspicious he is hiding something from her… And he is.

Intended to be an antidote to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s classic novel “The Yellow Wallpaper”, which has our heroine confined to bed rest only to lose her mind, Left to Our Own Devices is a story about a paralyzed woman’s struggle to take charge of her own life “while she still can.”

Intentionally written as a stream of consciousness travelogue of sorts into the inner workings of Estelle’s own logic and reasoning, as she moves in her own words “from an NPR tote bag carrying, Harper’s and The Nation reading, liberal democrat to a radical crip, a revolutionary of sorts” LOOD emits the struggle between inertia and motion in the form of casual, chit chatty, gossipy, and, yes, sometimes almost pedantic, long-winded, “We get it already” soapbox-like prose. You remember how valuable ideas were to you when you first came into your own radical consciousness? Please have patience with this “piecing the puzzle together like a frantic 3 year old” woman — our late-bloomer, Estelle. She changes considerably, gaining more confidence, in the second book, “Everbody Carries a Heavy Load.”

Readers are invited to join Estelle amidst her recounting of the throes of her own changing consciousness and marital status. Not always a smooth ride, her feelings are equal parts claustrophobic, sardonic, and exuberant. And she leaves no topic unturned: her medical care details, 9/11 conspiracy theories, Obama vs. Clinton, the well-worn prison abolitionist script, hegemonic European beauty standards, Joni Mitchell in blackface, Nina’s Simone’s “Suzanne”, narcissistic American yoga, inter-racial wedding planning, marriage as an institution, food porn, sex porn, friendship, tarot cards, Scrabble, children’s toys, bourgeois dinner parties, social media, nature writing, holistic health doctrines, tensions between community building and cop bashing tactics, cars running down bikers, comparative religion, Guantanamo-esque U.S government torture in a local boys’ home, Rob Zombie films…It’s no surprise Estelle’s whole family is immersed in the American horror genre– a coping mechanism for Multiple Sclerosis’ horrific neurological uncertainty.

Changing our minds and lives isn’t always easy. It can be quite painful, and even a nightmare at times. (This may account for why more people don’t do it!) One woman’s distinctive willingness and ability to radically alter relationships in her own life, (negatively affecting her immediate finances), serves as an analogy to the consciousness raising process itself, urging readers to connect their own lives to her story, as if the novel was a mirror reflecting back something from each readers’ own story. Different reflections emanate from the same basic source: the struggle for political freedom, personal self-realization, and most importantly– the relationship between the political and personal as captured in my ideal of non-doctrinaire but well-read, flexible but militant, innovative but time-tested, humorous but deadly serious anti-capitalist/ imperialist struggles.

In the neoliberal/proto-Fascist era of simultaneous white male deflation/ anti-immigration backlash, with class bludgeoning at an all time high, and military/police state expansion, Left to Our Own Devices seeks to tame (through sheer literary force) the beasts of fear and insecurity through humor and truth-telling. Hardly naïve  in its inception, it upholds the possibility of political momentum, as we come down from the cloudy illusions of our own greatest expectations and disappointments to work with what is right before us and, like so many clouds, will never fade away: each other. This is altogether unglamorous, like Estelle herself.

We may be “Left to Our Own Devices”, but we share this condition with each other: we are the multitude. And we’d all really like to get somewhere, right?

Anti-Police Organizing after Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s Death

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Remember how the 9/11 attack led people to cancel or pull back from anti-globalization protests?  It appears a similar dynamic could be at work as a shocking event challenges and divides a growing and effective movement making serious headway.  Like anti-globalization protests before it, the anti-police brutality/ policing movement is going through its own birth pangs as the tactics debate (when is property violence appropriate?) and issues such as how to foreground anti-black racism (#BlackLivesMatter vs. #AllLivesMatter) have taken center stage in the multifaceted and large scale resistance efforts underway.

Saturday, December 20th, was a big day for movement news.  While Minnesota’s Mall of America protest had people occupying space in the US’s largest mall to demand an end to police violence, half way across the country in Brooklyn, two police officers were shot and killed by a young black man who had ostensibly posted on social media before the shootings about his intention to “put wings on pigs”, citing revenge for the deaths of Brown and Garner as motive.  The accused shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, shot himself dead on a nearby subway platform after shooting the officers.  As of Sunday afternoon, there is little information and much speculation about the accused murderer’s life (including that the murders were part of a counter-intelligence plot to discredit the movement and justify extreme force).  Much is uncertain, but it’s certain that the NYPD is already using this to suppress protest, repress entire communities, and further foment divisive public relations–especially with NYC Mayor deBlasio.  How can recent police union behavior and statements be considered anything but a naked admission of a police force’s own extra-legal/ paramilitary ambitions?

At this writing we do know a few things for certain: the corporate state’s policing apparatus will do everything in its power to use this event as a further call to arms against protesting U.S. residents and communities of color.  They will attempt not only to discredit a growing direct action-based movement, but also to aggressively attack protest groups and individuals they have been trying to get their hands on anyway.  If Ismaaiyl Brinsley had been arrested  and charged with the killing of two police officers in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, clearly the anti-policing movement would be having very different debates and discussions.  Now, in his death, many people righteously struggle to contextualize his motives or opportunistically use his actions for their own political reasons.

Not that probing Brinsley’s motives is entirely irrelevant–he shot a woman, possibly an ex-girlfriend, before the officers, for example– but the movement can hurt itself by participating in the posthumous quasi-legalistic media charade of “nailing down” his motives or state of mind.  (This activity already inculcates participants in the state’s judgmental logic of condemnation/ exoneration–echoing media character assassinations of murder by police victims like Brown and Martin.)   What if he was acting in concert with counter-intelligence forces? What if Mao’s little red book was in Brinsley’s pocket?  What if he was an active member of a local Cop Watch group?  What if he was a well-known local homeless man struggling with mental illness and addiction?

Initial activist reactions offer a range of responses: some grapple with the delicate issue of expressing compassion about the shooter’s life, death, and family; some timidly, or not so timidly, tiptoe around self-defense concepts and a deep understanding of the extreme nature of “revolutionary suicide”; some routinely denounce Brinsley’s actions–acting as guardians of the “real non-violent movement” against  “unstable violent outsiders”; some have decided that was a police action he got entangled in.  Then there’s those (new to the issue white activists, I am talking to you) who may have been active and supportive of the anti-police brutality movement, but will use this as an excuse to pull back.  (Controversial events function as a movement’s filtering process, losing people who are too challenged to keep fighting and were just waiting for a chance to fold anyway.)

If there’s anything I am reminded of by this event, it’s the power of social movements, and anti-racist struggles in particular.  For me, there is a connection between the cop murders and the movement.  Before you jump down my throat insisting that I am “feeding the cops’ ideology” by saying this–hear me out, please, and don’t take my statements out of context.  Since the drug war and mass incarceration/ deportation practices, many black and brown lives have been destroyed.  You don’t have to be a front lines long term activist to have strong opinions about policing and institutional racism in America, and feel hopeless in the face of it, too.  Frustration and anger is woven into the everyday fabric of people’s lives, and this includes individual consciousness, rhetoric, and self-understanding.  Add to this an endless flow of social media, news commentary, and live feeds of protests and demonstrations all over the U.S.  Some people may not be able to attend protests for various reasons (work, childcare, transportation, not living close to one, or a shy demeanor) but social media offers a strong way to feel emotionally connected to events since Ferguson began.

This access and ability to connect is both reason for the movement’s effectiveness and a reason to prepare for more controversial actions taken up by individuals in the name of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, or against violent police generally. (And then there’s always police counterinsurgency activities…)  In a large, multifaceted, international movement such that the Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!/ anti-policing movement has become, no one can ultimately judge who’s a protestor or a non-protestor, who cares or doesn’t care, about “the issues”. (Who has an authentic political consciousness gauge and where can I get one?) We can only state if we support certain actions as part of strategies our organizations or ideologies endorse.

I believe, from what I understand about Brinsley’s biographical facts and his presumed state of mind before the murders, he understood himself as a target of racist policing.  Go figure: young, black, and male in the U.S. A. But, As Dr. Johanna Fernandez states in the NJ Decarcerator blog, (http://decarceratenj.blogspot.com/2014/12/despite-deaths-of-two-officers-campaign.html), he could have also been acting in concert with authorities to execute a state plot to discredit the movement.  We will never know the facts here, and it shouldn’t deflect from our understanding of institutionalized racism, anyway.

Whether or not Brinsley acted alone or in concert with the state, his life had a truly tragic end.  If we admit understanding or empathy with people espousing extreme tactics — even cop murder — to express oppositional feelings, are we only throwing the police state, and its rabid NYPD, another reason for street level preemptive attack? (As if it ever needed a reason.  We’ve clearly seen over the decades, if the state doesn’t have a reason to justify aggression it’ll make one up.)  What about attempts to understand how social pressures like racist policing and mass incarceration damage people–like Ismaaiyl Brinsley? If we deny a careful consideration of the incalculable impacts movements can have, which include tapping into very real frustrations/ psychological dynamics leading individuals to act alone or as police agents, we sacrifice any potential unity than can be derived in a process of self-reflection and greater political awareness. Collective analysis may not lead to the unity of a shared position, but it could lead to an “agree to disagree” unity or a commitment to explore unpopular perspectives.  Something beyond simple condemnation or exultation is called for here.

It’s a daunting situation and the corporate state wins again if we play into the terms of engagement it always sets by the very nature of its power.  If Ismaaiyl Brinsley had survived and faced his accusers in court, we would see the movement split around “just” court procedures and outcomes.  Some would want him evaluated to qualify for mental health rehabilitation services, some would want him routinely punished, and some would call for his freedom, with an understanding his actions were committed under extreme duress due to the pernicious police state apparatus (a kind of “black rage” defense– if you will.)  From the looks of his social media posts, he knew he was probably going to die Saturday.

I shudder to think about what the state would do to Brinsley, and how the movement would split around his “just” punishment and desirable “rehabilitation.” (How are we going to rehabilitate psychotic racist police?  Any ideas?)  We would have to painfully endure a real trial of the Left’s anti-policing/ abolitionist positions. Instead, we are left to grapple with three dead bodies, many unanswered questions, and a big question mark about our ability to buoy the turbulence of building and sustaining a mass movement, focused specifically on the deep and festering wound of racist police violence, in the age of social media activism.

If we are going to posthumously speculate on Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s life, dare I suggest we use the very commitment to institutional analysis and human compassion that has served as a foundation of the Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!/ anti-policing movement–and previous anti-racist movements– since its inception?  As the saying goes, let’s “keep our eyes on the prize.”

All Lives Matter?: Class, Race, Gender, and U.S. Policing

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U.S. capitalism’s white supremacist foundation–expressed in phases from primitive wealth accumulation through stolen land and chattel slavery, to segregation, industrial/ agricultural labor exploitation, and relocation, to our current mass incarceration/deportation, and First Nations’ land and sovereignty violations–is on full display as another high profile murder-by-cop case is supposedly resolved in Darren Wilson’s exoneration (and voluntary resignation.)

Forever redefining the term “Black Friday,” last weekend’s Michael Brown/ anti-policing demonstrations, led by determined Ferguson citizens, reveal Wilson’s exoneration might be routine, but there’s nothing routine about the anti-policing movement’s response. The movement warns authorities that a sustained fight is being waged–led by a generation with the advantage of the past and present: they can access past movements’ cumulative knowledge and new social media outlets (as compromised as these outlets can be for organizing.) This is a very heartening and serious time for resistance, and it begs as much careful and considered reflection as it does directed action.

One challenge faced by organizers seeking to connect the dots between struggles– expressed in the chant that moves from “Black Lives Matter” to “All Lives Matter”–is how to concretely understand the frequently asserted “connections” or (Kimberle Crenshaw’s) “intersections” between class, race, and gender/ sexuality-based struggles. Clearly, women of color, like Detroit’s Renisha McBride, are police harassment and murder victims too. Black and brown people are being singled out by the racist policing/ deportation/incarceration system: this is one very concrete and simple unifying thread between struggles.

But, there is also a deeper unifying factor here: the white supremacist policing practices behind the murder-by-cop epidemic is really a capitalist, white supremacist, heteropatriarchal policing system that must be analyzed and fought as such. In “Fear and Fantasy in Ferguson,” Joe Lowndes dissects Darren Wilson’s fantasy-based testimony about how threatened he felt by Michael Brown. Lowndes concludes that “Wilson becomes an innocent child overpowered by a giant adult, instead of an armed adult who in fact killed a child.”  Setting aside, for some other time, analysis of the bizarre simultaneous presentation of police as both competent men’s men/ military experts and helpless victimized babies, we can’t ignore how Wilson’s style of victimization narrative is routinely found in domestic violence and gender-based hate crime narratives as well. 6’2” Wilson was rendered helpless (like a baby/ woman) in the face of Brown’s hulking presence (!) But why open up the whole gender can of worms, when we already have a hard enough time relating the systems of white supremacy and capitalism?

The idea that police serve capital’s interest, and thus the category of “class” is central in anti-policing work, is perhaps the most commonly shared radical leftist insight when it comes to the issue of hostile policing. (Was I the only one whose eyes glazed over during post-Wilson verdict Facebook threads where people boldly asserted, in their pseudo-sophisticated manner, that the murder-by-cop epidemic is “more about class” and “less about race”–as if we have to choose?) When examining the police state apparatus, it’s patently obvious that poor neighborhoods are heavily targeted and policed, poor people can’t afford private attorneys and bail, and the American business class’ unregulated and unpunished white-collar crime is permitted as reasonable, even dutiful, wealth acquisition. There’s really not that much sophistication in this type of analysis.

Regarding popular leftist analysis of the current police state apparatus, class comfortably takes its place at the head of the table, with race either right beside it or sitting on its lap– and both are loudly asserting, ” Serve me first!” A mere assertion of the category of “race-class” handles the conceptual challenge of describing “white supremacist” or “racial” capitalism, for the most part, and it’s amazing to watch the pageantry of avoidance undertaken by various political tendencies–including orthodox Marxists and liberals–in times of crisis, such as now. Orthodox Marxists view anti-racist analysis/activism as some kind of threat to the real revolution or as a misguided form of false consciousness. In an effort to deny their own privilege and personal racial investment, white liberals jump into bed with orthodox Marxists, asserting that murder-by-cop is “about class, not race.” (On the flip side, we see liberals/ progressives of color willing to talk about race here, but avoid its systemic links to capitalism at every turn.) Suddenly, it seems, everyone becomes an amateur Sociological theorist, acting as if sources of systemic violence are self-evident and can be scientifically traced in this late, great, and messy epoch of the corporate state’s bludgeoning of almost everyone.

The category of “race-class” works well to make the basic, yet poignant, point that we are not going to sacrifice an analysis of white supremacy for a unifying mandate of anti-capitalist struggle (as recent new social movement history reveals, this logic never works out well for the majority of us who are non white males!) It’s difficult enough to establish “race-class” or “racial class” as analytic categories in the anti-policing movement. So, why bring the gender/sexuality category in here at all? The feminized, “cop-victim” language found in Darren Wilson’s testimony, and high profile old and newer cases like Abner Louima’s rape and Marissa Alexander’s forced guilty plea, show that insertion of gender/sexuality into the analysis isn’t opening up a can of worms. That can has been opened up for us by the corporate state’s sanctioning of mass police violence, and we should respond accordingly with the most accurate analysis and activism possible.

American policing’s complex class, race and gender dimensions require more than an “additive model,” where either capitalism or white supremacy is viewed as “the core” system dictating the material effects of power (profiling, harassment, incarceration, and murder), with other categories added as a side dish to the main entree. We need a truly intersectional model where we can consider oppression’s categorical likenesses, co-dependencies, and dissimilarities as manifest in social lives and movements.

The August 9, 1997, rape-by- cops of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima is a real eye-opener regarding the relevance of (Kimberle Crenshaw’s) “intersectional”–class, race, and gender–analysis. White police officers from Manhattan’s 70th precinct arrested 30 year old male, Louima, because he was apparently mistaken for someone else. They arrested him and took him to their precinct where they beat him with several objects (and their fists) before finally anally raping him with a toilet plunger’s and broom’s wooden handles. Louima survived the attack, and in a rare case of justice delivered, the police were prosecuted. This case looms large as an egregious example of police brutality in the form of sadistic rape. It’s evident that the need for gender/ sexuality analysis can not be denied here. Louima’s rape-by-cops needs to be analyzed in the historic context of post-slave era race relations, as rape was a projected white male fear used to justify the lynching system.

During the post-Emancipation South’s lynching era, sexual dominance and rape became an important regulator of race relations. In White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth Century South, Martha Hodes states that before emancipation and during the Civil War, white society reacted to affairs between white women and black men with tolerance or denial. But when the slave system’s racial order came crashing down, fictitious tales of aggressive black male sexuality took a hold of the white imagination. This imagined, over sexed, black male enemy was used to justify the lynch system. It was at this time that gendered norms of (passive/white) female and (active/black) men became culturally encoded and sexualized–and lynching became systematically employed to punish imagined rape through real murder.

Abner Louima’s rape-by-cops reveals racialized police violence has a historically resonant gender/ sexuality dimension; no doubt those cops were consciously or unconsciously enacting revenge against all presumed black male rapists in a sexualized gesture of racial dominance. (The white psychic origins of the “black male rapist” is difficult to explain, but nonetheless real.) Racial violence has its sexual expressions just as sexual violence has its racial expressions. Or to put it another way, the practice of rape, which has been one historic hallmark of feminist/womanist struggle, does not remain squarely in the gender/ sexuality system. Rape-ism is a hostile expression of racism: it was a central method used by white male masters to subordinate black female slaves, after all.

Gender/sexuality in the anti-policing struggle does not stop at police harassment, rape, and murder of trans/women of color, or the more sensational cases like Louima’s. We see the gender/sexuality dimension of the policing system laid bare in the legal system’s enforcement of generalized “female/ passive” and “male/active” gender roles (although the strict equation of female/passive is itself dependent upon racial identities). Consider sentencing disparities for women defending themselves in domestic violence cases, or even, sentencing disparities for men and women who commit murder in intimate partner violence contexts. According to the Michigan Women’s Justice and Clemency Project,”the average prison sentence for men who kill their intimate partners is 2 to 6 years. Women who kill their partners are sentenced, on average, to 15 years.”  This simple statistic reveals that there is a higher price to pay for women than men when it comes to committing violent acts. Couple this with the fact that women of color and low income women are disproportionately affected by mandatory arrest policies for domestic violence, we see how gender and race oppression work together to produce these disparate sentencing outcomes.

Floridian Marissa Alexander’s self-defense case exposes the racially coded Stand your Ground law’s white supremacist facilitation of a quick defense strategy for white perpetrators in a racist, trigger-happy gun culture environment–see George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the harassment, stalking, and murder of Trayvon Martin for more details. That the state initially sought to incarcerate Alexander (who is black) for 60 years because she fired a warning shot while feeling threatened in a domestic violence altercation, shows that Stand Your Ground, which was not used as her defense when it actually applied, is not intended for use by black shooters. (I don’t know if we can find better evidence of the white supremacist intent behind Stand Your Ground than Alexander’s case). But Alexander’s case also shows us that a black female defending herself in a domestic violence situation will receive the most heavy-handed weight of the racist patriarchal legal/ policing apparatus. Alexander is dealing with the double jeopardy of her race and gender in this extreme case of sentencing and punishment (she recently agreed to end the four year case by pleading guilty, receiving time served, and she will be released on January 27, 2014.)

The racial framing of Alexander’s guilt as an “aggressive and armed” black perpetrator, combined with the gendered framing of her guilt as a woman with the nerve to defend herself during a violent male threat has led to her trial’s “guilty” outcome. In addition to Stand Your Ground’s racial purpose being placed front and center in this case, we are again reminded that the legal/policing apparatus has to enforce gender roles, because they are far from natural. So anything other than female passivity is punished through domestic violence victims’ harsh sentencing because they fight back instead of accept violence –“like a real woman.”

How does this all get back to Michael Brown’s murder and the anti-policing movement? We are inundated by capitalist, white supremacist patriarchal legal/ policing ideologies that locate, frame, and decide guilt and innocence in historically prescribed terms rooted in yesteryear’s violent lynching system. That lynching’s ideological locus was not simply motivated by white supremacy, but a perversely preoccupied discourse of imagined sexual dominance of the white female at the black male’s hands. This reminds us that events of social domination–including the renewed racist epidemic of murder-by-cop and vigilante murder (Zimmerman and Dunn)– are not singularly expressed along prescribed systemic lines (class, race, and gender/ sexuality), but these events definitely emanate from the corporate state’s white male heterosexual ethos. This is an ethos that is essentially a crisis, due to its illegitimacy. In a seemingly psychotic paradox, this system has all its (military) equipment, but it persists in evoking its imagined white vulnerability in the face of darker people’s also imagined predatory (and highly sexualized) prowess.

Class, race, and gender/sexuality swirl together like colors in one of those psychedelic paintings made so popular during the last big upheaval of the 1960’s and 70’s. Amidst this complex swirl of institutions, ideologies, and identity positions–or systems, standpoints, and subjects–one ultimate unifying truth stands out. The corporate state relies on policing the social body because submission is not natural. Submission is a crafted, highly policed, and imagined social fiction that benefits the few, and unites the majority of us, against this policing ethos–this capitalist, white supremacist, and heteronormative omni-crisis.

Article Links

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Here are links to all my articles beginning a year ago, when I launched my career as an independent, usually investigative, journalist.  The articles are listed in chronological order, with the oldest appearing first.  Stay tuned for upcoming project updates and new completed works. 

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PUBLIC EDUCATION MOVEMENT

On the McKay Scholarship program:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/09/04/floridas-most-vulturous-voucher-program/

On my short career as a childcare provider:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/10/18/the-childcare-nightmare/

With Seth Sandronsky, on motives behind school closures:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/10/behind-the-school-closure-epidemic/

With Seth Sandronsky, on school closure as a class warfare tactic:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/22/class-bludgeoning-and-public-education/

With Seth Sandronsky, the first of several detailed articles on New Jersey education deform:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/31/new-jerseys-education-cerf-dumb/

With Seth Sandronsky, the second of several detailed articles on New Jersey education deform:

http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/peoples-benchmarks-peoples-sovereignty-new-jersey%E2%80%99s-occupied-school-districts

With Seth Sandronsky, the third of several detailed articles on New Jersey education deform–expanded to include Pearson and Microsoft companies:

http://www.alternet.org/education/how-big-companies-microsoft-pearson-are-gearing-profit-our-childrens-successes-and

On the importance of Newark mayor Ras Baraka’s victory for the public education battle:

http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/ras-barakas-victory-indicting-education-crimes?page=9

FERGUSON REBELLION

Initial thoughts on discourse of “demiltarization” of police (Ferguson):

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/19/the-pipedream-of-demilitarizing-u-s-police/

More on Ferguson:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/22/rockwell-and-carroll-in-ferguson/

PRISON ABOLITION/ CRIMINAL JUSTICE/ SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE

My article on decarceration activism appears here:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/07/14/decarceration-activism/

http://decarceratenj.org/NJD_1stIssue.pdf

With Seth Sandronsky, on the bail bonds industry and its bipartisan supporters:

http://www.thefix.com/content/whom-bail%E2%80%94and-jail%E2%80%94tolls-special-fix-report?page=all

http://zcomm.org/zmagazine/for-whom-the-bail-tolls/

With Seth Sandronsky, on the lucrative business of data collection/ electronic monitoring of truant students:

http://www.mintpressnews.com/mintpress-investigates-school-districts-using-gps-ankle-bracelets-smartphone-tracking-on-truant-kids/197360/

CLIMATE CHANGE ACTIVISM

My thoughts on the historic climate march and Judi Bari:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/22/judi-baris-legacy/