Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

such a good day of neighbors.

building and learning some of the history of my block from a new friend who grew up in the neighborhood and whose family lived on my street up until a few weeks ago.

then tonight i check my voicemail and 88-year-old Mr Posey up the road had called to see if i wanted to come over and watch the giants. (we watched game 3 together and made cornbread.)

plus i live within walking distance to lots of fabulous people i know, and probly many more fabulous people i’ve yet to meet.

north oakland, i really appreciate getting to know you.

Cabbage with Thyme, White Pepper, and Orange Juice


Whipped this up for my friend Saqib’s birthday party — a feastful affair that included a fucking fantastic soyrizo-grits-and-caramelized-onion casserole — and had my first occasion to use the thyme that has made its way over from Vanessa’s garden to mine.

I’d meant to pick up some habañero peppers at the store (capsicum cousin to the scotch bonnet peppers more traditionally used in Jamaican cabbage-and-thyme dishes), but forgot, so in went a hefty dose of white pepper, plus orange juice. The combo brought a bit of that bright, citrusy heat that comes from habañeros. Not bad!  Next time I think I’ll throw some carrots in there.  Steamed cabbage isn’t my favorite to look at — needs jazzing up to let prettiness match tastyness.

And what a gorgeous party, my goodness. Black and brown, hella queer, multi-generational, turquoise walls, dishwashing shifts, deliciousness.

Waged & Unwaged Labor Struggles Are Still Feminist Fights, Y’all

inspired by Silvia Federici’s talk tonight — where she gave a feminist take on the financialization of reproductive work, as well of an overview of reproductive sector struggles from elder warehousing to education. came home, ate cookies, put beer in the fridge. then found this resonant testimonial on the web page of Mujeres Unidas y Activas (MUA), about its Caring Hands Workers’ Association.

“Before I took the Caring Hands training, I was economically dependent on my husband. He controlled me by determining how much money I would have. He refused to give me money for the bus, so I couldn’t go out. After I took the training, Caring Hands helped me to find work and I began to earn my own money. Now, I am free.”

—Caring Hands Graduate

Poignant evidence supporting Federici’s assertion that, contrary to the criticisms of the 1970’s Wages for Housework Campaign, efforts to win remuneration for women’s reproductive labor weren’t tainting the private sanctuary of the home. Rather, domestic social relations were already constructed around the withholding of the wage from reproductive and care work, typically done by women and always systematically devalued.

In other words, the introduction of wages for housework wouldn’t distort or shape social relations in the home any more than the absence of wages for housework already does.

Good food for thought! Now to drink one of these beers, plan my garden with a friend who’s helping me, and do a little organizing work before bed.

night, y’all.

“Your Revolution Will Not Happen Between These Thighs”

i’m really proud of myself: tonight i warmly but firmly set a boundary with an older man i’d been meeting up with politically, and who seems to be lightweight hitting on me. usually i have trouble with this because i don’t want to alienate people investigating radicalism. i fear that if i crush their flirty vibes then they’ll drop the politics completely, and i will feel guilty. but tonight i told this man that even though i genuinely enjoy spending time with him, (a) my life is really busy and (b) my primary interest is that he has options of staying politically involved and connected, if not through me then through other people in my organization. he seemed to take it okay. yay for healing subtle internalized patriarchy! ♥

and here’s a little celebration / inspiration from sarah jones. happy monday, y’all.


My First Marxist Feminist Rhyme

Yesterday: amazing political art by Young Gifted and Black, Isis Rising, and all kinds of other phenomenal hip-hop and soul-flavored performances at the Life Is Living festival yesterday in West Oakland (including an extended Nina Simone tribute that, during Jennifer Johns‘s take on Sinnerman, evoked a cathartic tear or two from the wildly dancing audience). On my way out of the park I watched this rhyme unfold in my head.

It started with the tradeoff of wages and prices, then meandered to attacks on reproductive care (thanks for that presentation, Becca!), the false liberation of muslim women thru u.s. imperialist war, and nuclear energy and fukushima (shouts to Umi for alerting me to the feminist working-class issues there).

So here you go — an extremely extremely rough experiment, something that will probably never amount to anything polished. Still, it represents my gratitude for all that I’m learning, every day, from comrades, artists, thinkers, ancestors, and people in struggle.

what they give to us in wages
they take back in price raises
and when prices go down
ain’t no jobs to go around
class war is the struggle of haves and have nots
the haves got cops and the nots get locked up
knocked up
patriarchy ain’t always a black eye
it’s that guy
cuttin reproductive care statewide
stay wise
stay apprised
don’t believe in state lies
women’s liberation ain’t no bombs in the sky
ain’t no nuclear sites
claimin power for the people
but indigenous displacement
and radiation is the payment
that’s why i send love to mothers in fukushima
and the elders volunteering
for the deadly job of cleanup

Lessons from STORM

storm coverSo many amazing questions raised in this piece, about what kinds of cadre are needed in our historical moment, how to practice and not just preach revolutionary feminism, the relationship between leadership and democracy and how to build revolutionary leadership in oppressed communities during a non-revolutionary period… totally daunting and absolutely essential inquiries.

A couple small points that are feeling particularly relevant and challenging for me right now:

We [STORM] also made a mistake in not considering emotional development to be a part of our members’ development as revolutionaries.  We did not help our members heal from past life trauma or from personal challenges encountered during political work.  Such hurt and trauma are inevitable and, if left to fester, can negatively impact our political work.  STORM’s inattention to this matter allowed members’ political and practical skills to outstrip their personal capacity to handle the pressure of their work.  This led to a lot of interpersonal conflict and tension with other activists.

and later:

STORM tended towards an emphasis on the common struggle of all people of color instead of a more in-depth understanding of the specific histories and roles of different oppressed communities within U.S. imperialism.  Our work tended to focus only on multi-racial constituencies and organization.  We neglected to build organization in and unity among specific communities with distinct interests and issues.

On a different — but related — topic, STORM did not create intentional spaces for members from different oppressed communities (e.g., different racial/national groups, women, queer people, working class people) to build community and political analysis around the particular issues facing their communities.

It’s just astonishing to me how, although I think they’re off the mark in some areas and self-contradictory in others, overall the people who wrote this document display such level-headed self-criticism, as well as appreciation for the strengths the group did have.  (And their strengths were many.)  Hindsight is 20/20, I know, but damn… nearly a decade later, these articulations still feel so relevant.  Especially in the Bay Area Left.

It’s too late at night for me to form really coherent thoughts about these things, but one question I do have is: what do we mean by  “emotional development” and “emotional growth,” and what do we want these things to look like?  Are there universal qualities and phenomena connected to emotional development, or are there many, very different permutations that may not look alike at all?  And what kind of timelines are we talking?  How do we ‘measure’ emotional growth in our revolutionary development when emotional life might be irregularly cyclical, not linear?  And how do we move beyond a triage model of emotional work, addressing subtleties of emotional dynamics without getting completely bogged down in them?

Sometimes I think the emotional realm is just as complex as the Marxist intellectual/theoretical realm, but we tend to not respect the complexity.  We demand easy answers and go for simplistic fixes.  Other times I get completely frustrated with emotional study and feel like many of us are very invested in making it seem more complicated than it actually is.  We feed on the drama.

And when you’re of two minds about something like that, how can you ever know which mind to believe?


Having rediscovered arm balance poses during a winter slump, it’s nice to know I can turn to them when I need some play, focus, and grounded confidence in my body.

In this case, literally turn to them: with a new twisting asana I learned yesterday.

The teacher said it was Parsva Bakasana (Side Crow Pose), but seems like it’s actually a kind of modified version, like a pushup on your knees?

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So there’s the learning of a new pose, but there’s also a meta-learning about how to take care of oneself, right?  What particular practice might help with certain mental states.

And it’s one thing to learn what tends to help; it’s another to summon the discipline to do it.  Showing up for ourselves.  Whether it’s playing music, getting outdoors once a day, eating well for our bodies, getting proper sleep.  Part of being a sustainable revolutionary.  I’m lucky to be around political people — and a legacy of people in the Bay — who value this as a part of our work.  As I’m reading the STORM document, it’s bittersweet to see that despite their emphases on self care for revolutionaries, they still ultimately ran into “exhaustion and poor health among STORM’s most active members.  Physical and emotional fatigue were both widespread, particularly within the Core” (37).

There’s no quick fix, I suppose.  And while it might seem like the hardcore thing to do to “power through,” I personally suspect that the people who appear the most hardcore and indefatigable are not neglecting self-care practices, but have actually cultivated tremendous discipline toward them.  Whether that means never missing a mass, five daily prayers, morning meditation, morning pages, or surfing every day.

So a few more handstands, then on to tonight’s support for indigenous land struggles in the East Bay!  :)

What are some of your tried-and-true self-care practices?  What are specific ones you draw on for certain reasons?