What’s Missing from Defund the Police

“We ignore their pain at our peril.” —Brené Brown

I’ve written elsewhere about the dramatic shift in my beliefs regarding police. How I arrived, over the years, at an unusual version of ACAB:

All Cops Are Buddhas.

Meaning: I believe that all beings have deep-down goodness, sometimes called buddhanature — whether or not it is fully expressed or developed in this lifetime.

But Kloncke, you might protest, Is this true even of serial killers? People who commit murder, assault, and atrocities? People who collude in cover-ups? People who ban abortions, bomb civilians, and try to eradicate transness?

To put it simply, yes.

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The Super Generation

We humans have long looked to butterflies for lessons on courageous transformation and beautiful migration.

A few years ago, my gardening-savvy neighbor Miya Saika Chen put me on to yet another piece of bio-wisdom from these miraculous relatives.

Did you know that many monarch butterflies have a “super generation,” born at the northernmost tip of their journey, with the adaptive strength to play a special role? 

Born with delayed sexual maturity that also slows aging, the super generation lives 10x as long as their parents, grandparents, and great- grand- parents — all of whom lived, reproduced, and died in relay-race fashion along the great trip north. 

The super generation’s extra longevity (plus ravenous fat storage) enables them to fly from the northern tip alllll the way back to the southern tip of the migration route, where the ancestral journey first began. After overwintering there, they finally reproduce and the migratory cycle begin again.

As climate collapse accelerates, democracy frays, teen suicides rise, and the festering social wounds of colonization, racism, cisheteropatriarchy, and ableism continue to go septic, I believe we can learn from our friends the monarchs.

I believe we are called to make exponential adaptive moves, compressed within one lifetime. 

I believe we are called to become a super generation.

A super generation of empathy.

A super generation of truth-telling.

A super generation of healing trauma and breaking intergenerational cycles of harm.

A super generation of embodied, relational wisdom and intelligence.

A super generation of lovingkindness.

A super generation of accountability.

A super generation of compassionate confrontation.

A super generation of spiritual wisdom, applied in the material realms.

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Disorganized Attachment with Domesticity

A photo of Katie's living room: soft yellow walls, lots of built-in wood, bamboo floors, a couch with many colorful blankets and throw pillows, a yellow patterned armchairs, some houseplants, a central big-screen tv, and stacks of books.

Sometimes, a frantic feeling.

Gutters need cleaning; I have no ladder. Is the Monterey Pine dying from a moth infestation? (Plus the ongoing effects of drought?) Does the kitchen need mopping? Does the Monstera need to be staked and tied? How can I keep things clean, orderly and beautiful?

And for whose sake?

Sometimes, a desire to flee.

Maybe I should sell in a year. Individual homeownership in the U.S. is a trap, right? Built on myths of heroic individualism. With actual housekeeping and landscaping labor often outsourced to working-class brown people.

We are not meant to do this alone.

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Winter Solstice — Festival of Enoughness

Kitchen table — wood, worn, loved — holds two jade-green candlesticks with yellow hand-dipped beeswax candles, lit; a vase of red winter berry branches; a beeswax candle shaped like a pinecone; a woven grass placemat; glass amber-colored decorative dish for olives or pistachios; and a book, splayed open with the cover visible: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.
Kitchen table — wood, worn, loved — holds two jade-green candlesticks with yellow hand-dipped beeswax candles, lit; a vase of red winter berry branches; a beeswax candle shaped like a pinecone; a woven grass placemat; glass amber-colored decorative dish for olives or pistachios; and a book, splayed open with the cover visible: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. [Note: I’m still debating whether to do image descriptions in captions, alt text, or both. For now, both.]

Solstice is a planetary event — though its nature and intensity, as experienced by humans, varies depending how far we are from the equator, and in which “direction,” South or North. (As an elderly Japanese anarchist nun character in A Tale for the Time Being would say: “up, down, same-same.”) While our friends and comrades in the Southern Hemisphere are experiencing their longest summer day, here in the North we have our longest winter night.

Though I didn’t grow up celebrating the Winter Solstice, these days I find that it magnetizes me just as much, if not more, than any other holiday in the winter season. Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Gregorian New Year, Lunar New Year — probably many more of which I’m unaware. Each holds beautiful myths, meaning, and ritual. But I don’t participate much in any of them, unless I’m invited in by a friend.

One thing I’ve learned about my nervous system: I tend to find abundance in simplicity.*

Simplicity like:

  • For Winter Solstice, cook soup in a special pot.
  • For Winter Solstice, light a few of your most beautiful candles.
  • For Winter Solstice, go outside at least once to breathe fresh, cool air.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. The soup I made yesterday was no heritage recipe; just a way to use my Guilt Vegetables (perennially in danger of wilting or spoiling from my cooking procrastination) and some dried beans of mysterious provenance.

I try to remind myself: this is enough.

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A New Leaf

It’s been years… but we’re back, y’all. I’m ready to return to the Kloncke blog.

This will be a home for reflections and conversations that don’t fit so well on Instagram. (And as for Meta, formerly known as Facebook, as of this writing I’ve all but abandoned that platform.)

This revert-to-blogging experiment might work; it might not.

I’m excited to try. And I hope you’ll join me!

Got a few topics simmering that I want to share about, but I also want to ask you: what conversations would you like to have here?

Three Poems to Resume

To reopen, I want to offer three poems that I’ve loved and learned by heart in the intervening years. (“Learned by heart” is a phrase I’ve come to substitute for “memorized,” thanks to my dear friend and poet Rick Benjamin.)

the lesson of the falling leaves
by lucille clifton

the leaves believe
such letting go is love
such love is faith
such faith is grace
such grace is god
i agree with the leaves

widening circles
by Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Joanna Macy & Anita Barrows

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.

I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
by e. e. cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Did Oprah Inadvertently Critique Capitalism?

oprah golden globe 2018

Update 1/11: While I appreciate Rinku Sen’s appeal to nuance, I can’t agree with a conclusion that all strategies matter. I think we can and must be specific about what we want. The Movement for Black Lives platform, for example, calls for a “minimum guaranteed livable income for all Black people.” whether or not you support that approach, the proposal’s comprehensiveness achieves something *desperately* needed in our politics right now: it puts platform before personality.

it’s one thing to honor or thank (?) people for enduring oppression. it’s another to get specific about how we imagine remedy, and why.


Like a lot of us, I’m of two minds about Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes.

On one hand, it was powerful. She is powerful. She is talented, beautiful, and historic. Like Obama, she brings many Black people joy and pride.

On the other hand, she’s a billionaire. She’s a billionaire capitalist with a network called OWN. She’s an entrepreneur philanthropist marketing classic American bootstraps ideology — neoliberal, trickle-down, swathed in an opulence that somehow manages to seem earthy. Like Obama, she gracefully and photogenically upholds a system that exploits and kills Black, Brown, and indigenous people the world over.

Paradox and contradictions: let’s not shy away from them, right? Let’s use them to build from where we are, to where we’re going. Let’s honor and borrow some of Oprah’s vision, tenacity, and fire.

What If Everyone Had Enough?

How do we grow dreams so big they can’t stay in dreamland?

—adrienne maree brown

There’s one line of Oprah’s speech that I can’t get out of my head; a line that pinpoints a key intersection of gender oppression and economic precarity. It’s when she says:

So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue.

Enduring abuse and assault because they had bills to pay.

Is this not an elegant (if accidental) critique of capitalism?

Stay with me. Could we fight sexual abuse by ending poverty? [1] Not just firing creepy bosses one by one, but reorganizing society so that everyone has the essentials — including childcare, healthcare, housing, education, clean water, clean air, freedom of movement? Celebration of all the languages spoken by our ancestors? Do you think, under such circumstances, that fewer people would feel compelled to put up with sexist workplace bullshit in order to survive?

Could we encourage accountability by decolonizing Turtle Island? Not just forcing concessions from predatory politicians, but reckoning with ongoing genocide, epistemicide [2] [3], and theft of land from indigenous communities? How are we supposed to culture-shift toward ending sexual violence if we can’t make amends for the fundamentally violent patterns of the U.S. nation-state? This shit is fractal, my friends.

I’m not here to hate, but I’m here to be clear. While the #TimesUp organizing is smart and commendable, a legal defense fund is just that: defensive.

Like Oprah and Obama, I want more.

I want us to change history.


“Now Life, Though Not Exactly Easier, Is Life All The Time”

As one guide, I look to the vision of Black queer feminist poet, scholar, teacher, “troublemaker,” and organizer Alexis Pauline Gumbs. In the visionary fiction anthology Octavia’s Brood, she writes time-traveling letter from Lexi after capitalism to herself, during capitalism.

I think of this passage nearly every single day.

May it lift you the way it lifts me. May it make you feel as powerful and possible as Oprah. And then some.

Dear Lexi,

Breathe deep, baby girl, we won. Now life, though not exactly easier, is life all the time. Not chopped down into billable minutes, not narrowed into excuses to hurt and forget each other. I am writing you from the future to remind you to act on your belief, to live your life as a tribute to our victory and not as a stifling reaction to the past.


Beyond Boycotts


Don’t get me wrong: a boycott can be lovely. My birthday party last year was a festive picket line in service of an ongoing wage-theft and harassment struggle against local restaurant thief-boss Calavera.


Photos of previous Calavera actions.
all photos by Brooke Anderson.

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When done well, a boycott can of course be useful.

But how often are they actually done well? (Studies indicate: rarely.)

Is it just me, or do most boycotts these days seem like the tactical equivalent of trying to starve wild geese by withholding stale breadcrumbs?


Like I said, there are exceptions. Recent exceptions! Of boycotts done well.

But many campaigns, even high-profile ones, are not done well. Shaun King, I’m looking at you. The majority of comments from participants in your Injustice Boycott (targeting cities in the U.S. to pressure them to… ¿value Black lives more?) are basically like HEY I SUPPORT THIS BUT IT’S HELLA VAGUE — WTF DO YOU ACTUALLY WANT ME TO DO???

No clear set of demands. No clear target until launch date (December 5th, 2016). No hint of coordinated legal strategy, or mass strikes in key industries of target cities.

Look, nobody’s perfect — least of all me. But I feel like we, collectively, can do better.

Yes, there are tricky technical questions of how to boycott chains and multinationals that can absorb a hit at a handful of stores. Or how to pressure corporate or government entities that don’t much give a hoot about liberals dragging their PR. But beneath these challenges there’s also a deeper problem.

Unless it’s meaningfully part of a dramatic, long-term strategy for change, even a victorious boycott basically reduces the level of egregious fuckery from Intolerable to Possibly Bearable, returning to a baseline of ‘normal’ exploitation.

To be fair, this is true of most campaign victories, a.k.a. reforms, regardless of the combination of tactics used. But that’s why people eventually start debating Reform or Revolution. Nowadays in U.S. movements, it’s hard to find where that debate is happening in a serious way, on a serious scale. More often the question is: How do we get reforms faster? Or: How do we take on larger targets, like Walmart, private prisons, or the police unions?

But let’s set aside reform-or-revolution for a second and get back to breadcrumbs.


Rather than just hoarding breadcrumbs and hoping the geese wither, why not hunt the killer capitalist flock in other ways (yes this metaphor is strange, and i don’t actually have anything against geese, but stay with me) and use them to make some stuffing? Topping for a baked pasta dish? A nice bread pudding?

In other words, what are we supporting with the resources we’re withdrawing from the boycott target?

(…To Be Continued…)

An Era of No Good Options


Right now, for me, it’s this question:

From what source do we derive our power?

*   *   *   *   *

As a Black and Jewish (European) mixie, two genocides mark my recent ancestry. One of them is relatively uncontested. Holocaust deniers exist, sure, but it would be difficult for most Americans to look at my Opa’s identification papers from the 1930’s, see Dachau, Auschwitz, and Buchenwald written in old-timey script, and still insist that my relatives were not systematically starved, gassed, hanged, and burned in ovens, with the stated intention of ridding the world of Jews.

The approach to the question of Black genocide in the United States, though, is different. Systematic anti-Black state violence is more commonly labeled an atrocity, a violation of human or civil rights, or a category of racist oppression.

The United Nations Genocide Convention defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.”

“In whole or in part.” This has been the subject of debate and disagreement, even among those who consider themselves experts.

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