More than Hurt Feelings

Overt racism is easy to spot. The cotton balls, feces swastikas, and racial epithets at Mizzou (among many other campuses) are ugly. They intend to be demeaning and to strike fear. They mean to establish that there are the “people like us,” and the “others.” That they are not acceptable is obvious.

Institutional racism is more subtle

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In Case We Have Forgotten MLK's Vision of the Power of Nonviolent Direct Action

“To dislocate the functioning of a city without destroying it can be more effective than a riot because it can be longer-lasting, costly to society but not wantonly destructive. Moreover, it is more difficult for government to quell it by superior force. Mass civil disobedience can use rage as a constructive and creative force. …
To have effect we will have to develop mass disciplined forces that can remain excited and determined without dramatic conflagrations.”

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Cameras to the People

All the talk I hear about cameras on police gives me pause.

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Horseshoe Crabs

I was walking on a city sidewalk the other day and happened to look up. There, silhouetted against the gray sky, a lilac branch held a small head of buds. The flower buds were still tightly furled, the leaf buds open just a crack. I stopped for the briefest of seconds to take it in. A miracle, I thought, the ceaseless turning from bud to flower to death to rest and then bud again.

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Ferguson Activists: A Whole New World

Ferguson Organizers
Johnetta Elzie, DeRay McKesson, Jabari Asim

Last night I went to a discussion with Johnetta Elzie and DeRay Mckesson, two young Ferguson organizers. Their passion and disciplined commitment were impressive, of course. But it’s their self-awareness, skill with non-violent language, and practice of radical democracy that made it seem like a whole new world. A few examples:

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I was approached by the nurse. I recognized her only vaguely, as she worked mostly in the clinic in this building and almost never in the clinic where I received what care I occasionally needed. She broke open a package of finger-stick apparatus, took my hand, and prepared to draw the few drops of required blood. “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?” I asked her past the tears that blocked my throat. “Is this what you went to nursing school for? Does this seem to you like taking care of a sick person? Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?” She only looked away.

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Human Finitude, Expansive Possibilities

abundance of vegetables at a city farmer's market

Even as concentrated wealth dominates conventional political processes, people everywhere are busily, skillfully, and creatively making a different future. They are writing the narrative, building the relationships, mastering the skills, and solving technical problems. I am reminded that peace and abundance are possible. The head to head power struggle is not the only or even the most important point of change.

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Already the word is a declaration of separation. Expressed in the head to head model, it suggests that we should be struggling for the power that “they” hold and use to “their” advantage and “our” disadvantage. As if life can only be successful for some, but not everybody. As if there is a monolithic, definable set of bad guys, and if only we could beat them….

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About Katherine Power

I didn’t set out to be a terrorist. As a student activist, I moved from protesting the war in Viet Nam to waging guerrilla war to overthrow the government….

Recent and Upcoming Appearances and Publications
4/6-9/2018 The Nature of Change, Radical Imagination Conference, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
1/15/2014 Complexity and Social Change, Occupy Radio
10/31/2013 Surrender, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
10/25/2013 Surrender, Taos Community Theater, Taos, NM

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