How Not to Stop Police Violence.

Dash camera footage shows violent arrest of Sandra Bland. CREDIT: Associated Press

Dash camera footage shows violent arrest of Sandra Bland. CREDIT: Associated Press.

As the fight to end police violence rages on across the country, a state senator in Texas wants high schoolers to learn how to communicate with law enforcement during traffic stops. But the proposed curriculum assumes that the people targeted during those stops are the problem— not the officers.

Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) is currently eyeing legislation that would require schools to teach ninth graders about encounters with police on the road. Noting that there’s a deep-seated mistrust of police, he wants the Texas Board of Education to ensure that young people learn what their rights are early on. But Whitmire, who says his idea was inspired by Sandra Bland’s violent arrest and subsequent death in custody, also wants students to learn how they should behave around officers who pull them over.

“Ms. Bland’s tragedy is a huge motivation for me to hold the officer accountable and also assist the public in some of the better practices when they encounter law enforcement,” he told the Texas Tribune. “[If] Ms. Bland and the officer would have taken a deep breath, I don’t believe she would have been taken to jail, where she ultimately met her fate, unfortunately because she was not treated right when she got to jail.”

She wasn’t treated right? She was murdered, Senator. Dead, never coming back. That’s more than not being “treated right”, we aren’t talking about cops being rude.

As for teenagers in Texas, it’s impossible to know if officers will shoot them during traffic stops — even if they’re obeying orders and expressing their rights in a respectful way. While Whitmire said that officers should also let go of the “‘I caught you’ mentality,” his proposal still puts the responsibility of de-escalation on teenagers, rather than the adults hired to serve and protect them.

Local police officers included in conversations about the proposed legislation agree that the responsibility to reduce tension during a stop shouldn’t fall on officers’ shoulders.

“On the side of the street is not the place to litigate what you believe the officer is doing is wrong or what the officer believes you are doing wrong,” Executive Director Kevin Lawrence of the Texas Municipal Police Association explained to the Tribune. “It needs to be a better understanding by our general citizenry of what law enforcement is expecting of them. They need to understand that when they’re being contacted by a law enforcement officer — we’ll just take a traffic stop as an example — they need to think about that stop from the officer’s point of view, not their own.”

There isn’t enough fuck you, and fuck that in the universe for this continued idiocy. No, cops need to be accountable, and the responsibility for not escalating anything at all should be firmly on the shoulders of every single cop. You want to swagger around, weighed down by weapons, playing lord of the universe, you fucking take responsibility. I can’t even express how much I hate this shit, that it’s on me and every other person out there to prevent our own murder, especially as cops seem to be very keen on murdering people who are not only fully complying and have their hands up, they are now seen as a threat after they have been tased, for fuck’s sake! No, cops, go fuck yourself, you are all wrong, wrong, wrong. You stand up, and take responsibility. You stand up and do the right thing. You stand up for your community, because you are a part of that community. You point the finger at the bigots, the violent morons in uniform standing next to you. You point the finger at all the bullies. You refuse to work with them, you refuse to work at all unless there are goddamn standards put in place. Point the finger at all those upstanding people in blue who go home at night and beat the shit out of their partners and kids, then wander around with weapons the next day. Clean up your own houses, put that focus on policing yourselves. There isn’t a person anywhere who can trust a fucking cop.

While well-intentioned, Whitmire isn’t the first lawmaker to offer advice about how to behave around cops. And not all of that advice has been positive.

Following the shooting death of Jamar Clark in Minnesota, Rep. Tony Cornish (R) wrote an op-ed about how to “reduce the use of force by police.” In it, he wrote, “Don’t be a thug and lead a life of crime so that you come into frequent contact with police,” and “Don’t make furtive movements or keep your hands in your pockets if told to take them out.”

This year alone, police have shot multiple people who had their hands raised.

Full story at Think Progress.

Black Lives Matter.

A Black Lives Matter demonstrator (Shuttershock)

A Black Lives Matter demonstrator (Shuttershock)

Have a wander over to http://blacklivesmatter1.com/ – you can keep up with the latest news, and help out a bit by becoming a member, donating, or just spreading the word. And don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter. Everyone who reads here should know the importance of signal boosting, can’t stop the signal!

White Saviors Need Not Apply.

Stop Mass Incarcerations Network sponsored a children's march on the anniversary of Tamir Rice's death at the hands of the Cleveland police (a katz / Shutterstock.com)

Stop Mass Incarcerations Network sponsored a children’s march on the anniversary of Tamir Rice’s death at the hands of the Cleveland police (a katz / Shutterstock.com)

In this post, I wrote about problematic white people at the Očeti Sakowiŋ camp. Certainly this does not apply to all white people, there are plenty of thoughtful, mindful white people who get it. As with most people who manage to do the right thing, they get to be unsung heroes, because it’s more important to talk about people who are serious problems, big ol’ roadblocks when it comes to any sort of social progress. I have no doubt there are plenty of times when white people feel as though they are constantly picked on, but it’s desperately important to understand that there are many good reasons for that.

Here in uStates, and in way too many other places in the world, people have been brought up and raised in a drowning pool of colonial kool-aid. Colonial thinking is extremely bad, it’s bad for everyone and everything. It’s destructive, dismissive, disrespectful, condescending, and unthinkingly arrogant. It’s short-term thinking, which is the very worst kind. There’s no looking to the past, through the present, into the future. Colonial thinking does not allow for a time bridge, or the importance of all generations, past, present, and yet to come. Look at the photo up there ^. Look at that child’s face. Every child’s face should reflect trust and happiness. That so many children, all over the world, know fear, distrust, and suspicion at such young ages is wrong on every possible level. That so many children, if they are not white, are viewed as sufficiently mature to be a threat, therefor, it’s okay for them to be gunned down by cops and citizens. Wrong. So wrong. That’s racism run amok, when you target children and think it’s okay to do that, for those children.

I know I’m not alone in being very tired of the fact that in spite of everywhere, in every way, every. single. thing. is made better, easier, softer, kinder for white people, yet they still manage to complain if the sugar-coating on a bitter pill isn’t thick enough.

I have mentioned, so many times, that I’m half white, and it’s that half which shows on the outside. When I’ve been at the camps, frinst., and someone is speaking about wašiču, and not in a nice way, I don’t take offense, I don’t get upset in any way. I listen, because generally speaking, I know I’m going to hear something valuable. Sure, I often hear things which hurt, but that happens when you’re trying to always learn throughout your journey on this earth. When you do hear things that hurt, it’s important that your hearing isn’t overwhelmed to the point that you miss bitterness, generational trauma, and/or the pain of deep wounds from the speaker. When you miss things like that, you miss the opportunity to understand. When you miss the opportunity to understand, you lose the opportunity of forgiveness and healing. When you lose the opportunity of forgiveness and healing, you lose the ability to be an ally. When you lose the ability to be an ally, you lose the possibility of peace.

When you’re white, at least here in uStates, it’s so very easy to be dismissive of the deep wounds of generational trauma; to handwave horrible acts because that was X amount of years ago. Ask yourself, if you have been hurt, does it help if someone tells you to get over it already? It’s not possible to “get over something” when that something has never been addressed in any meaningful way. It’s not possible to “get over something” when a majority of people refuse to even consider said harmful acts, and the repercussions echoing down the generations. Would white people consider it helpful if I simply posted: “White people, get over yourselves!”?

Then there’s the problem of white people trying to help when they have no understanding and little respect. Then you get people who are determined to be white saviors. No one is looking for white saviors. People of colour have already had long histories with white people who considered themselves saviors to the “lesser” races. Being an ally, that’s good. A wannabe savior? Bad. Lorraine Berry has a very good article up about the selective doubt of white people, and the savior problem. It’s in-depth, so just a bit here, click on over for the full read, and it’s a good one.

White people spend a lot of time telling black folks what their stories mean. If it’s not white writers insisting that they can tell a person of color’s story better than a black writer can, or Trump running mate Mike Pence telling black people that they talk about systemic racism too much, or Iowa Congressman Steve King telling Colin Kaepernick what his protest against police brutality “really means,” or folks who insist that “slavery wasn’t that bad,” there’s no shortage of white folks who insist that they know better than black folks when it comes to interpreting what happens to black bodies. It would be tempting to dismiss it all as the ravings of a minority of kooks if it weren’t for the ubiquity of the phenomenon. Everywhere, it seems, white people just can’t help themselves.

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Indigenous News Round-up.

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The Immortal Mr. Plastic.

Excerpts only, click links for full articles.

barack_obama On My Final White House Tribal Nations Conference, by President Barack Obama:

This week, I hosted my eighth and final White House Tribal Nations Conference as President, a tradition we started in 2009 to create a platform for people across many tribes to be heard. It was a remarkable testament to how far we’ve come.

It was just eight years ago when I visited the Crow Nation in Montana and made a promise to Indian country to be a partner in a true nation-to-nation relationship, so that we could give all of our children the future they deserve.

winonaladuke-e1336873224811  Slow, Clean, Good Food, by Winona LaDuke:

In an impressive fossil fuels travel day, I left the Standing Rock reservation and flew to Italy for the International Slow Food gathering known as Terra Madre. A world congress of harvesters, farmers, chefs and political leaders, this is basically the World Food Olympics. This is my fifth trip to Italy for Slow Food. I first went with Margaret Smith, when the White Earth Land Recovery Project won the Slow Food Award for Biodiversity in 2003, for our work to protect wild rice from genetic engineering. This year, I went as a part of the Turtle Island Slow Food Association- the first Indigenous Slow Food members in the world, a delegation over 30 representing Indigenous people from North American and the Pacific. We have some remarkable leaders, they are young and committed.

It is a moment in history for food, as we watch the largest corporate merger in history- Bayer Chemical’s purchase of Monsanto for $66 billion; with “crop protection chemicals” that kill weeds, bugs and fungus, seeds, and (likely to be banned in Europe) glyphosate, aka Roundup. Sometimes I just have to ask: ‘Just how big do you all need to be, to be happy?’

tribal_chairman_jeff_l-_grubbe_agua_caliente_band_of_cahuilla_indians_main_0  Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Donates $250,000 to Standing Rock Legal Fund:

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is donating $250,000 to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s legal fund, citing the need to keep pushing for proper consultation even after the Dakota Access oil pipeline issue is decided.

“We support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s effort to ensure the United States Army Corps of Engineers, or any other agency or department of the United States, strictly adheres to federal environmental review and tribal consultation requirements prior to authorizing any projects that may damage the environment or any sites that are of historic, religious, and cultural significance to any Indian tribe,” said Agua Caliente Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe in a statement on September 27, calling on President Barack Obama to make sure consultation is thorough.

3-fiesta-protest-woman-with-sign_dsc0508_widea  Natives Speak Out Against the Santa Fe Fiesta – The Bloodless Reconquest:

A loud group of about 50 mostly Native protesters disrupted the Entrada kickoff event of the Fiestas de Santa Fe. This is the annual reenactment of Don Diego de Vargas’s “peaceful reconquest” of Santa Fe in 1692 as produced by Caballeros de Vargas, a group which is a member of the Fiesta Council, and several current and past City of Santa Fe Councilors are members of the Fiesta Council or played parts in the Entrada over the years. So these are layers you must wade through when people ask questions and protesters demand changes. And changes or outright abolishment of The Entrada are what the groups “The Red Nation” and “In The Spirit of Popay” are asking for.

climate_news_network-binoculars-flickr-aniket_suryavanshi  Dire Climate Impacts Go Unheeded:

The social and economic impacts of climate change have already begun to take their toll—but most people do not yet know this.

Politicians and economists have yet to work out how and when it would be best to adapt to change. And biologists say they cannot even begin to measure climate change’s effect on biodiversity because there is not enough information.

Two studies in Science journal address the future. The first points out that historical temperature increases depress maize crop yields in the U.S. by 48 percent and have already driven up the rates of civil conflict in sub-Saharan Africa by 11 percent.

big-pix-rick-bartow-counting-the-hours ‘Counting the Hours’ By Rick Bartow:

Rick Bartow, a member of the Mad River Band of Wiyot, walked on April 2, 2016, and had suffered two strokes before he passed. The IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts reports that those events affected his work, and it can be seen in his collection as “exciting examples of Bartow’s production since his stroke… that evidence a new freedom of scale and expression.”

Born in Oregon in 1946, Bartow was never formally trained in the arts, though his artistic nature was encouraged and he did graduate from Western Oregon University with a degree in secondary arts education in 1969. Right after that he served in Vietnam from 1969-1971, and it was demons from that war that he spent his early years in art exorcising. He says he was “twisted” after Vietnam and his art can be described as disturbing, surreal, intense, and visionary; even transformative.

harney_peak_renamed_black_hills_peak_-_ap_photo  Celebration of Forgiveness at Black Elk Peak:

On a recent Autumn Saturday in the Black Hills, a handful of men and women gathered at around 9 a.m. at the Sylvan Lake trailhead just below Black Elk Peak. By 10 a.m., they numbered close to 80.

“The focal point of our gathering was to have family members of General Harney have an opportunity to apologize to members of the Little Thunder family,” said Basil Brave Heart, Oglala Lakota, an organizer of the event. Brave Heart initiated and led the effort to change the name of this highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains from Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak.

Among those standing in a circle that morning was Paul Stover Soderman, a seventh-generation descendant of General William Harney, known as The Butcher of Ash Hollow, and to the Lakota as the architect of the same conflict, known to them as the Massacre at Blue Water Creek. Soderman had come to apologize to Sicangu descendants of Chief Little Thunder, the Brule leader of those murdered in that conflict, and to seek forgiveness and healing.

All this and much more at ICTMN.

Spot sobre la situación educativa y laboral de las personas trans.

Argentina’s trans community, as is the case in many countries, faces an extraordinary amount of discrimination, from education and employment opportunities to violence. Animator Virginia Gilles, writer Stephanie Santoro and sound designer Thomas Corley decided to put some facts about the community’s Argentine experience into stark relief in an experimental short, which features hypnotic animation, motion graphics, music, and voiceover.

“The spot is not part of any campaign,” Gilles tells The Creators Project. “Our objective is to demonstrate the problems of employment and educational discrimination against trans people. As for aesthetics, we wanted to create a powerful but cool effect, mixing the character of the words with experimentation in image and sound.”

As the artists note in the voiceover, quoting Argentina’s Fundación Huésped (Guest Foundation), “Six out of ten transgender women and seven out of ten transgender men failed at completing their secondary school education.” Half of these individuals failed because of discrimination against their gender identity. The artists are also attempting to raise awareness about the various forms of violence suffered by transvestites and transsexuals.

“The policies implemented by the Argentine government and the expansion of their rights through laws that generate greater inclusion are insufficient,” they write. “We believe that in order to reverse this painful reality requires a real commitment by the whole society, to eliminate social hatred and generate inclusion and actual acceptance of all trans people in various fields, which will enable them to develop a equally dignified life without being discriminated against because of their identity.”

“As people, we have the right to be treated in accordance with our self perception and this should be respected,” the artists say. “Education empowers you and gives you tools to stop discrimination. The doors are open. You have to take impulse and go through them.”

Via The Creators Project.

Lies and Myths about Bisexual People.

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I’ve gotten so weary over the years about the pervasive nonsense people hold in their heads about bisexuals, I gave up trying to talk sense about it. That was wrong, and I’ve been reminded that said nonsense still holds sway, and if things are ever going to get better for bisexual people, everyone has to get a good handle on the reality, and keep on speaking up. I’ve had a woman say to me “stay the hell away from my husband!…and me too!” and a man say to me “stay the hell away from my wife!” even though I’m very long time married , and happily so. I have no interest in someone else’s spouse because I’m not interested in cheating, it doesn’t have anything to do with  me being bi. It has more to do with me disliking any relationship in which a person will be hurt. After a while, such things didn’t even elicit an eyeroll, just a small sigh. Then I stopped talking about it, or mentioning it at all. Bisexual people still remain invisible, and often when we are visible, it’s simply to be scoffed at by someone or other. I think I can do better, and I think most other people can do better, too.

Eliel Cruz has a good article up at The Advocate, addressing the top problematic societal beliefs and behaviour regarding bisexual people.

So here we are in the supposedly enlightened year of 2016, and yet, biphobia persists. In no particular order, here are a few of the most tiresome lies society really needs to stop telling about bisexual people.

1. Bisexuals don’t exist.
This is the first and most pervasive lie about bisexuality. Some people simply can’t fathom a sexuality in which individuals are attracted to more than one gender. You can test the waters, but you eventually must pick a side, the thinking goes. But bisexuals don’t need science — or the approval of those attracted to only one gender — to prove that they exist.

2. Bisexuals are just going through a phase.
Yes, it’s true that plenty of gays and lesbians used bisexuality as a way to soften the blow of coming out to conservative parents. Many may even have identified as bi for a time while they were still making sense of their own orientation. And while coming out is an intensely personal decision, the strategies of some should not invalidate the identities of the majority, for whom bisexuality wasn’t a “stepping stone” but the final, concrete destination.

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