Meet the New Boss … Same As the Old Boss

First published on The Big Smoke.
November 10, 2020

Despite

  • more than a quarter million mostly preventable deaths from COVID-19
  • thousands of children imprisoned in concentration camps
  • at least 660 children who may never again see their parents
  • hundreds of asylum seekers who were sexually assaulted, physically abused, and then deported to hide the evidence
  • hundreds of women whose uteruses were involuntarily/unnecessarily removed and who are now being deported to hide the evidence
  • a $2 trillion increase in U.S. debt
  • 12.6 million unemployed
  • 40 million on the brink of eviction
  • and 12 million who lost access to health care

while

  • a handful of billionaires increased their wealth by $1 trillion
  • the president, his family, and cronies stole millions of dollars from the U.S. Treasury
  • the president violated the U.S. Constitution daily since January 20, 2016
  • he and his staff lied constantly (thousands of times)
  • and the president, his children, son-in-law, and staff committed treason

more than 71 million U.S. citizens voted to keep the current administration in office. And many of them lied about it. Because the only reason 99 percent of them had to vote for him is to support white supremacy.

And yet, despite four years of numerous analysts explaining in myriad articles, Twitter threads, YouTube videos, Facebook posts, etc. that racism is their primary reason for supporting him, there are still people insisting we need to “understand” why people vote for white supremacy and that we must not blame them for doing so.

Mike Stanfill, who creates Raging Pencils, went so far as to claim voter fraud in favor of the president because “in no rational universe could that walking bolus of bile and malice garner 71 million votes, 8 million more than in 2016, without significant covert aid.”

The only reason for anyone to not understand why and to not blame the people who subjected BIPOC, LGBA, transgender and two-spirit folx, immigrants, non-christians, people with disabilities, and others to four years of abject terror is to assuage their own, covert racism and/or white supremacy.

Black voters, Indigenous Americans, and many other people of color fought attempts to disenfranchise them; risked their lives; lost wages they couldn’t spare; traveled for hundreds of miles; stood for hours in the rain, the heat, the snow; registered thousands of new people to vote, and drove those who had no other way of getting there to the polls. All so they could hold their noses, after eschewing more progressive and representative choices in the primary, and vote for the slightly less evil, racist white man who has only marginally better impulse control. Because, they knew they couldn’t count on white voters to make the right decision last week.

“White pundits and talking heads still cannot say White folks voted for racism,” Marley K. said on Sunday. “When you can’t get White people to acknowledge there was no reason on earth to vote for Trump except racism, there’s no way in hell you can address the problem.”

Anyone who is still shaking their head, “reaching out” to racists, trying to understand why people vote for a narcissistic con man, is complicit in white supremacy, whether or not they’re an active participant.

More than 71 million U.S. citizens voted for a treasonous criminal because he allows them to brazenly display their hatred for people who are not straight, cis, white, xtianist, third generation; to be proud of their homomisia, transmisia, Islammisia, xenomisia, misogyny, and racism; to deny anyone they see as other civil rights, access to medical care, housing, food, bodily autonomy if they’re not cis males; and “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

That complicity includes the entire Democratic party that

  • actively worked to prevent any progressive candidate from topping the ticket
  • sabotaged progressive candidates for vulnerable Congressional seats only to have the moderates they supported for those seats lose to the Republican incumbents
  • within moments of network news declaring a winner began haranguing against any attempts to move the party toward the left.

If “we are going to run on Medicare for All, defund the police, socialized medicine, we’re not going to win,” House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) proclaimed despite

  • at least half a dozen Democratic centrists losing their seats in the House
  • every single swing seat member who co-sponsored Medicare for All winning re-election
  • only one of the 93 House co-sponsors of the Green New Deal who ran for re-election losing

Because white people in the U.S. will forfeit healthcare, retirement, affordable education, childcare, breathable air, drinkable water, etc. rather than allow BIPOC the same benefits. The people who were comfortable with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal because Black people were deliberately excluded, their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren consistently vote to impoverish themselves rather than improve the living standards of a single BIPOC.

“White Americans are the rich world’s most hostile, ignorant, violent, cruel, and selfish social group — by a very long way,” Umair Hague explains.  “White Americans want America to be a failed state — and that is its fundamental, deep, and long standing problem.”

So, while liberals wring their hands and shake their heads, while they try to understand, while they believe the “long nightmare” (four years isn’t long when your people have been oppressed for four centuries or four millennia) is over because the oligarch was elected instead of the autocrat, the reality is that for anyone who isn’t white, straight, cis, neurotypical, and abled; for all the people who stood in line for hours and hours; for those already at work in Georgia on the runoff elections, the nightmare continues, as it has for centuries.

If* the president-elect takes office, he plans to “work with all my heart with the confidence of the whole people, to win the confidence of all of you,” making it clear that he learned nothing from the previous administration in which he served as vice president about what happens when you put bi-partisanship over getting things done.

He refuses to back programs that eliminate insurance companies as arbitrators over who gets access to health care; has given only lukewarm support to the Green New Deal, which although it might have been meaningful a few years ago, now is in itself inadequate; will do nothing to stop police from murdering BIPOC; and has made it clear he has no intention of mitigating a Supreme Court poised to reverse Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges. The latter is despite

  • the fact that the vast majority of the people who live in this country approve of both women’s bodily autonomy and marriage equality
  • there’s no restriction in the U.S. Constitution on the number of SCOTUS judges
  • five of the nine justices were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote and confirmed by a senate representing fewer than half the people in the U.S.

The protests will continue despite whoever is in the White House, because the occupant doesn’t really matter to those who are poor, houseless, hungry, BIPOC, LGBTQ2S, immigrant, non-christian, different abled, neurodivergent, etc. (and it’s no coincidence that many of those categories overlap).

The problems in this country that feed white supremacy — racism, patriarchy, capitalism, colonialism, misogyny, homomisia, transmisia, Islammisia, xenomisia — are systemic. They are literally built into the foundation (and founding documents) of the U.S. and all attempts to remove them, from the very beginning, have failed.

I am not alone in the belief that 400 years of white supremacy, genocide, colonialism, never-ending wars, planetary destruction, unfettered exploitative capitalism, patriarchy, and enslavement/murder of BIPOC is enough.

The coup* started June 1 when the president ordered the U.S. military to attack civilians exercising their First Amendment rights. Defense Secretary Mark Esper had no problem with that, although he apparently drew a line in the shifting sands wide enough to get himself fired Monday, paving the way for someone with even fewer scruples. Also on Monday, Richard Pilger, the director of the Department of Justice’s elections crime branch, stepped aside after Attorney General William Barr — who has actively been trying to suppress dissent for the past six months by arresting protesters on trumped up (pun intended) federal charges — released a memo making it clear he intends to have the DOJ interfere in the election results. The second U.S. Civil War is already in progress.

Older Black voters who consistently pull the U.S. back from the brink of self-destruction are tired and dying. And the younger ones, who are in the streets now, see no reason to continue the colonialist wars of aggression, extraordinary resource theft, and oppressive racist systems that the rest of the world learns from (e.g. German Nazis).

The reality is that this is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a United States. It’s a bunch of very different states with very different values, and with many value differences within individual states. The GOP, unsatisfied just controlling a bunch of states where not many people live, has been working for decades to force the rest of us to fall into line with its colonialist, patriarchal vision of America circa 1784.

None of this started with the current White House occupant and it won’t end if/when he’s removed from power. The slaughter/incarceration of BIPOC didn’t pause under the previous administration. Children were still separated from their parents at the border. The concentration camps that this administration stuffed full were built before this president took office. The Shelby County v. Holder decision gutting the Voting Rights Act is named after the previous administration’s attorney general for a reason … it was handed down in 2013.

The Affordable Care Act didn’t get health care to BIPOC because it was written to appease insurance companies and then eviscerated by various states. So BIPOC are dying in far greater numbers from COVID because they don’t have access to medical care and because even if they have insurance they’re turned away from hospitals and their symptoms ignored. (Did no one else notice the not-so-subtle shift in the administration’s attitude toward the virus when the numbers came out that more BIPOC were dying than white folks?)

People in the U.S. are houseless. They are starving. The police are beating and murdering them. They are dying for lack of medical care. In much of the world people are drowning because of climate change the U.S. and its fossil fuels companies caused. And the president-elect will not do one damn thing to change any of that.

The biggest difference if he is able to boot the current occupant from the White House? Liberals will blithely brush off their hands as if they had accomplished something when all they did was put some crazy glue on the massive crack opening in the dam.

Standing Still While Moving Left

First published on The Big Smoke.
October 29, 2020

I grew up in the U.S. “south” and experienced explicit racism firsthand, both as an observer of how Black and other people of color were treated, and as a victim for not being white enough and not practicing christianity. I have spent most of my adult life in the U.S. “north” where the racism was always implicit, but no less systemic.

I always speak out against bigotry and intolerance in all its many forms: racism, misogyny, homomisia, transmisia, xenomisia, etc.; step up when and where I can to defend victims; use my words in an effort to explain harm and persuade change.

But, during my lifetime I have watched the animus and bitterness of the reaction to small gains in civil rights for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color; freedoms for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and other Queers; acceptance for people who are transgender; and independence for women grow rapidly in the United States, far out of proportion to the relatively minor advances that were made. The acrimony comes couched in pious but authoritarian terms: “law and order,” “America first,” “religious freedom,” “pro-life,” “border protection,” “individual liberty,” etc.

Hands of a white-passing person in focus in the foreground holding a Black Lives Matter sign with a Black person, out of focus, on a bullhorn speaking to a crowdWhen the Civil Rights movement made open racism more unpopular and awareness curtailed racist speech, the evangelical crusade — started before the U.S. Civil War to fight the growing movement to abolish slavery — shifted gears. Inspired by women’s access to hormonal birth control and the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v Wade decision, which combined gave women in the U.S. unprecedented control over their own bodies, evangelicals transferred their focus from keeping “coloreds” out of their schools, jobs, unions, and neighborhoods to “saving” the lives of “unborn children”. This campaign flourished despite biblical declarations that life begins at first breath, specification that a fetus has a lower value than a person, inclusion of an abortifacient formula (for unfaithful wives), and the fact that no statement against pregnancy termination was even once attributed to Jesus in the text.

Meanwhile, U.S. legislation and practices that prevented non-whites from owning homes, obtaining a quality education, earning equivalent income and benefits, and securing access to political influence, continued. The 1994 crime bill (sponsored by then U.S. Senator Joe Biden and signed by then U.S. President Bill Clinton), combined with the zero tolerance policies enabled in the Gun-Free Schools Act signed the same year, exacerbated the impact of the school-to-prison pipeline sending people of color, especially young Black men, into the for-profit carceral system built and codified after the Civil War to replace slave labor.

Still, white, especially male, resentment simmered, albeit below the surface in “polite” circles. It emerged as the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish, anti-LGBQ, anti-Trans, anti-reproductive health care biases spread by right-wing organizations across the globe. Attempts to address harm done to BIPOC, LGBTQ, women, and non-christian populations through affirmative action met with fierce backlash and ludicrous accusations of reverse discrimination.

Straight, white, cis, male entitlements — the pillars of systemic racism and patriarchy — allow mediocre heteronormative people with lighter skin tones to continue reaping the rewards of advantages bestowed those who fit within privileged classes. And that, more than anything else, is what the melanin challenged refuse to give up, whether they are willing to admit it or not.

While they may claim to abhor racism; express regret and anger about the deaths of BIPOC routinely slaughtered by police, especially but not exclusively in the U.S.; berate and ridicule those who call the cops to report folks who are just trying to work, deliver packages, drive, park, picnic, swim, play, bird watch, or even just exist while Black; there is a limit to how much they are willing to personally sacrifice for the necessary changes to end systemic racism and patriarchy.

Once upon a time, I labeled myself a Democrat. But, as the Democrats moved to the center-right to fill up the void left by Republicans’ radical shift to the authoritarian right, I renamed myself a liberal, even though my views did not seem to have changed all that much. But then, more and more, I encountered only neo-liberals and hypocrites branding themselves with the “liberal” label. So, I switched my identification to progressive.

But now, five months into world-wide protests against police brutality that have been met with even more egregious police savagery, while media constantly equate protester vandalism with police violence, so-called officers of the law continue to kill Black and other people of color, district attorneys continue refusing to charge police with any of the crimes they commit, and elected officials across the United States and in other countries continue ignoring the public outcries demanding they strip funding from police departments.

And yet, I still hear “liberals” and even “progressives” enthusiastically embrace a tough-on-crime ticket for U.S. president and vice president, rallying behind the man who helped create the school-to-prison pipeline that has swallowed so many Black lives and communities, voicing their ardent support for the pro-cop/pro-prison woman who locked up and terrorized BIPOC and trans Californians because she has dark skin. That back-the-blue endorsement spits in the face of the millions in the U.S. who took to the streets, at the risk of arrest, injury, and even death, to demand abolition of the carceral system.

As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his August 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, where he was imprisoned after he defied a state court’s injunction and led a march of Black protesters without a permit, in response to a statement, published in The Birmingham News, written by eight moderate white clergymen criticizing the march and other demonstrations:

“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.'”

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “white moderate” is today’s liberal and progressive. And, personally, I just cannot identify with those who find it acceptable to support two people who have done so much harm to communities of color and LBGTQ people. Bigotry and white supremacy behind a polite, civil, congenial facade is still bigotry and white supremacy.

So, now, I apparently am a radical abolitionist. I already had come to accept the utter impossibility of reforming a police force of racist white supremacist bullies who do not believe the law applies to them, whose organizations began as slave patrols and whose progenitors were protectors of property that belonged to well-to-do white men and union busting thugs. But even though I have always been well left of center, “radical” seemed too far, especially as a senior citizen.

Is believing that all people — whatever their skin color, sexuality, gender, faith, ethnicity, nationality, financial status, age, mental acuity, ability, etc. — are entitled to the same protections under the law, the same civil rights, the same access to basic needs such housing, food, and medical care, really that radical?

In an epiphany-inspiring article she wrote about how whiteness dilutes voices of color at public radio stations for The American Prospect, Laura Garbes, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, wrote:”Public radio and the broader academic world are liberal or progressive in their thinking, but are not radical. They are not about to jeopardize their own comfortable situations by fostering fundamental change” (boldface emphasis is mine).

And therein lies the crux of the difference between liberals/progressives and radicals. It is fine to talk about equality and police reform, but liberals and progressives are not willing to do the necessary heavy lifting of completely rebuilding a system that was designed to create “equality” only for straight, white, cis, property-owning men, a Republic that built slave patrols into its Bill of “Rights” (what that “well-regulated Militia” in the Second Amendment refers to).

Many liberals and progressives are not even willing to confront their fanatically white supremacist, homomisiat, transmisiat, and/or xenomisiat friends and relatives because that might mean giving up the pleasures of a weekend brunch or the comfort of a holiday dinner. They are certainly not inclined to support zoning changes that would provide more houseless people places to live if that would also allow apartment complexes in the neighborhoods of their single-family homes; services for the mentally ill in the same building as their fancy, high-rise apartments; or tent camping in their church parking lot. They won’t support defunding the police because then who would they call if someone stole a lawn ornament or took shelter in their doorway or painted anti-fascist graffiti across the street?

Fundamental change requires extensive sacrifices. And most people who identify as progressives and liberals are only willing to make small efforts toward the illusion they are working to offset the injustices that fuel their privilege: making commensurately small donations to crowd-funding campaigns, food banks and/or social justice organizations; recycling paper and cans; giving up plastic straws; signing meaningless petitions; adding a Black Lives Matter border to their social media profile picture; and maybe even writing a letter to the editor or showing up for a night of protest or two. However, they are not ready to sacrifice any of their own comforts, even to save someone’s life (unless it is someone they know personally, but sometimes not even then). They are not willing to recognize that the planet cannot sustain a capitalist lifestyle, that the privilege that allows them to own a home or condominium and one or more personal vehicles (even electric ones) is killing BIPOC around the world.

The liberals and progressives reveal themselves when they fervently urge you to vote blue, as if that would result in any substantial changes, and explain how they firmly believe that peaceful protests are perfectly acceptable and should be permitted, but they draw the line at looting, graffiti, setting fires, pulling down statues of colonizers, and other acts of vandalism. That translates to the colonialist concept that “white people’s property has more value than Black lives”. The excruciatingly brutal police response: bloody beatings with night sticks and arrests for “disorderly conduct” and “interfering with a peace officer” echo across centuries of violent oppression.

Although liberals and the progressives, especially in the U.S., know, and quickly recite or post, every MLK quote about non-violence, they conveniently forget that he was assassinated because agencies of the United States government considered him a dangerous radical. And they never quote from his April 14, 1967 speech, “The Other America”, given at Stanford University one of the many times he referred to rioting:

“I will always continue to say, that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. … But at the same time, it is as necessary for me to be as vigorous in condemning the conditions which cause persons to feel that they must engage in riotous activities, as it is for me to condemn riots. I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. So in a real sense, our nation’s summer’s riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”

Protests, Politics, Possibilities

First published on The Big Smoke.
October 6, 2020

Two-thirds of Portland voters agree Edward Tevis Wheeler is bad for Portland. Businesses blame him for disruptions caused by ongoing protests piled on top of coronavirus closures. Protesters, criticizing him for refusing to control the cops who beat and gas them every night, call for his resignation.  His mayoral campaign appears to be in shambles with his second campaign manager leaving, disclosure and financial rule violations, and a probably illegal $150,000 loan to himself.

Many are convinced there is no way for him to get elected to a second term.

Unless the two remaining candidates split the vote.

Left to right: Teressa Raiford, Sarah Iannarone, Edward Tevis Wheeler
Left to right: Teressa Raiford, Sarah Iannarone, Edward Tevis Wheeler

Although Sarah Iannarone, the only other name appearing on the ballot, won almost three times as many votes as Teressa Raiford in the May primary — enough votes to prevent Wheeler who received one and half times their combined total from winning outright — the world has changed drastically and irrevocably since then

Many activists and voters do not believe any white person is equipped to lead Portland under the current paradigm of police violently attacking protesters against police brutality, and targeting primarily BIPOC for arrest, while the mayor and city commissioners ignore activistsdemands (even though implementing them could have stopped the nightly demonstrations months ago).

Worse, Iannarone and Raiford could split opposition to Wheeler and give him four more years, which would be a complete and utter disaster for the city.

White people in Portland, including Iannarone, do not understand just how tenuous life in Portland is for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color and how much risk they continue to face as long as the police department is allowed to exist in its current form.

Iannarone loves to tell people she’s antifa and she regularly attends protests. But, she proves she does not understand how deadly life is for people with dark skin and/or who are neurodivergent, not gender conforming, mentally distressed, Queer in public, houseless, etc. by still calling for police reform, reform that

  • has repeatedly been tried and failed
  • cannot work if the city continues to support the outrageous police budgets while cutting funds from every other department
  • allows violent, abusive cops to continue responding to protests (when cops and other racists don’t appear there’s no violence, no one gets hurt)
  • allows reinstatement of cops (if they’re removed at all) after they murder someone
  • still has the city shelling out millions of dollars in civil penalties and for the many lawsuits resulting from police rioting and abuse of citizens over more than four months, while nothing comes out of cops’ pockets
  • allows racist bullies who live elsewhere and have no connection to the community to remain on the force
  • means nothing when there’s always an “unless” that gives police an out for killing people.

Iannarone’s “Comprehensive Plan” for “Rethinking Public Safety” includes such tired tropes as “Portland Police will be required to undergo more de-escalation, implicit bias, and equity training than combat training. … Chokeholds and shooting at moving cars should be immediately banned.”

De-escalation training has been proven not to work. It has been required for police departments across the country to absolutely no effect. The activist who trained San Jose police on diversity and de-escalation, for example, unsuccessfully tried to de-escalate a situation after watching the police shoot rubber bullets directly at the chest of a young girl and at an older woman in close range. They shot him in the testicles in retribution.

Chokeholds have been banned in New York City since 1993, but Eric Garner (among others) is still dead. Chicago banned chokeholds in 2012, but Mia Wright endured one on June 3. New York state lawmakers criminalized the use of chokeholds in June and days later another Black man was choked into unconsciousness.

Minneapolis police were banned from attending “killology” training, where they’re taught pseudoscience about killing people without negative psychological impact. But, the police “union” keeps offering it.

“Portland must cease employing the practices and tools designed for foreign warfare.”

Many of the tactics used by the Portland Police would be considered war crimes if they were used in  a conflict against citizens of another countr. I’m not sure why Iannarone believes that statement addresses outrageous police brutality.

“When police rely on riot control agents, it can affect everyone in a crowd…”

A judge has issued a restraining order against Portland police use of tear gas. They still use it. The mayor ordered them to stop using one kind of tear gas (CS). Portland Police used other chemical agents and worked with federal, state, and county law enforcement so CS gas could be deployed during protests by those agencies.

“Demilitarize the police by ending the bureau’s investment and proliferation of military-style weapons and tactics.”

Defunding police militarization is not enough. The problem is not the riot gear, the gas and pepper spray, or the “less-than-lethal” weapons as much as it is the people wearing/wielding them, people who beat protesters with billy clubs — a traditional weapon dating back to the Pinkerton Detectives hired to break up strikes by busting skulls — because they can and do get away with it. Portland Police vindictively drag people to jail in the middle of a pandemic, on charges the District Attorney has said he will not prosecute, just to punish protesters. Removing their riot gear, or talking away their weapons, would not change that.

A Twitter thread compiled by T. Greg Doucette, a conservative, criminal defense lawyer licensed in North Carolina and Texas, documents more than 950 events of police brutality in the United States over the past four-plus months. It started as a Top Ten list from the first 36 hours of protests after George Floyd’s death. But as police continued to brutally attack protesters against police violence, as people shared what they witnessed and video they recorded with Doucette, the list grew. (The numbers refer to events — he only assigns one number to multiple videos including updates from the same event, that have taken place only in the U.S. and only since May 27. And, he doesn’t post nearly as many as he’s sent. A spreadsheet with all the data collected has more than 2,000 entries as of this writing.)

The thread gives an extensive overview of the wanton, vicious, almost always unprovoked, violence perpetuated across the nation by so-called “officers of the law” on people exercising their First Amendment rights. It makes it clear that cops are bullies. That they enjoy hurting people. That they have absolutely no regard for the law, for their “training”,  or for orders given them by the elected officials, to whom they supposedly report, and the judiciary.

The thread regularly features Portland Police

  • attacking peaceful protesters
  • shooting at people with military-grade weapons, aiming for their heads to cause life-threatening injuries
  • targeting journalists and legal observers despite court orders against doing so
  • harassing, gassing, and shooting at people in their own homes and neighborhoods or people who just happen to be driving/walking/biking in the vicinity of a protest.

You cannot train people like this out of behavior that includes routinely getting away with murdering BIPOC and people suffering from mental illness. You can’t reform organizations (including police “unions“) that condone this behavior and fight any attempts at reform.

Portland is at a crossroads and only an experienced and dedicated BIPOC leader can see the city to the other side.

Black activists do not need or want someone with a white savior complex. They have produced detailed plans to defund the Portland Police Bureau and create actual public safety programs that address long-term, neglected BIPOC needs.

Raiford, who began challenging Wheeler during his first year in office, has actively worked against police brutality and overreach for more than a decade. As a fourth-generation Black Portlander, she is only too familiar with police abuse and has fought for police accountability for much of her life. She founded Don’t Shoot PDX, a non-profit which researched the threats that riot control agents pose to health and the environment and filed the class-action lawsuit which resulted in the court ordering police not to use tear gas. Don’t Shoot PDX, whose website was selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress collection of materials related to anti-racism work in the U.S., also addresses housing issues, provides mutual aid, and implements art, education, and civic participation to create social change, and more.

But back in May, before Floyd’s murder triggered nightly protests throughout the city of Portland, Raiford finished third in a field of 19 candidates. And now, she is so busy doing the work on the streets that should be a mayor’s job, she spends no time stumping. The write-in campaign is managed by her staff who speak and advocate for her. The activists who risk injury, arrest, and death from Portland Police, Multnomah County Sheriff Deputies, Oregon State Police, and agents of various federal agencies every night support her, especially those who are BIPOC, abolitionists, and/or anti-capitalists. Iannarone is a white liberal. Like Raiford, the activists are radicals and unlikely to respond to polls, especially ones conducted by Wheeler’s owners supporters, the Portland Business Alliance who hired Amy Rathfelder, his former campaign manager, as Government Affairs Director and consistently endorses him.

Iannarone’s refusal to set her own ego aside and transfer her support to Raiford’s candidacy by encouraging voters to write-in Teressa Raiford for mayor, could tip the balance away from removal of a corrupt administration more concerned with property than people. Instead of electing someone with the courage to eliminate the police and re-allocate those funds into social services, by continuing her campaign Iannarone provides Wheeler his one opportunity to stay in office.

If Wheeler is re-elected, or even if by some miracle Iannarone beats him, Portland will be destroyed. Between killer cops; the Proud Boys macing the streets, shooting paintballs, pointing loaded pistols at BIPOC, and firing pistols out of vehicles; boogaloo boys determined to start a race war; and other white supremacists itching for an excuse to murder people of color; (and let’s not forget a global pandemic and massive wildfires caused by climate change that came very close to the city and made it impossible to breathe for a week) Portland will be ripped apart and destroyed. The casualty rate will be horrific.

But if Iannarone helps elect Raiford, she will be seen as a true ally, one who Black voters could support for future office. It won’t stymie her political career, but instead will give her an opportunity to help end systemic racism in this city and maybe even the state and beyond.

DISCLOSURE: I have absolutely no connection to Teressa Raiford or her campaign. I have not been asked to write this piece nor has anyone contributed to the language above. I write as a concerned citizen who has been terrified and terrorized by the path taken by Portland and the U.S. I’m not sure the country is savable. But with the right mayor, Portland might be.

You Can Do More

Words have power. Images supposedly are worth a thousand words. So think about the difference between putting a “Black Lives Matter” circle border around your photo versus replacing your photo with an image that just says “Black Lives Matter”.

Those who choose the first example, are still centering themselves in the conversation, an endless problem for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) tired of explaining white supremacy, educating those who haven’t been paying attentionBlack Lives Matter about systemic racism, and consoling fragile white egos.

Performative “support” is almost worse than no support at all. It makes the person performing believe they’re doing something and allows them to believe they aren’t required to do any more.

But, there’s so much more we can/should do, so much more that needs to be done. Plenty of others on social media have listed some of the options, I’m not going to be repetitive. (Because quite frankly, if you don’t know what you can/should be doing you again haven’t been paying attention.)

The purpose of this post is to get people to think about performative support versus committing to action. The difference between signing a petition (which only gives your data to the petition site and is routinely ignored by recipients) versus tracking down names and addresses of politicians, sending them letters/emails, and making phone calls.

Chances are if it’s easy and makes you feel good, it’s performative and you can do more.