voices – fear & loathing as america burns.

uc berkeley black student union march, berkeley, ca; 6 june 2020.

i don’t know about you, but the last four weeks have felt to me like our american acid trip of terror’s kicked into a fucking meth fueled overdrive, vomiting forth relentless waves of ever dystopian visions, our present era some warped amalgamation of the hunger games, 1984, and mad max beyond thunderdome, only in this american story we’re all now mad, america is thunderdome, and none of us is anywhere near beyond it.

i watched. i always do. or try to, at least. my responsibility as an engaged citizen, as a radical activist and patriot, to see with my own as full a picture as i can, the actions the state takes in my name. this time i knew that i wouldn’t be able to, not the full nine. his final three i did. and that was enough – pleads for his mother under the shouts of the witnesses and the silent and soulless gaze of his murderer.

george floyd memorial mural; minneapolis, minnesota; june 2020.

it’s been about three years, now. since i left the best worst job i ever had – at a call center here in town. me amongst mostly women of color. it was their stories and voices i hearkened back to as i bore witness to mr. floyd’s death. to a day like all of the others there, headseats pressed over our ears, sitting in drab cubicles lined with fabric the color of burnt sienna, waiting for the next call to come through the queue to ring on our line. only this day was the day after another shooting of a Black man by police, i can’t recall which. the year would have been 2016.

all of their voices were somber that day, sad and tired. and then they began. telling their stories of having “the talk” with their sons, their younger brothers and nephews. i had listened before to the mothers of the movement, but it’s quite another experience when the mothers you’re listening to are mothers you know, folks i saw every day and had come to care for. hearing their strength in their voices, borne from the ever present, underlying fear that it could just as easily be their love one day, just like any other. just like that day that i listened. just like the day mr. floyd stopped in at his local corner market. just like the day that mr. brooks stopped in at that wendy’s.

all i could do was listen to the voices of those women that day. because, outlaw transboi though i am, that strength in their voices, borne from that ever present, underlying fear. well, that is something i cannot and will not ever truly know.

police kettled on msnbc, new york city; 31 may 2020.

we’d been watching stream upon stream of varying things before the streets filled up, my beautiful & i, love in the time of the covoid, – twelve hour dj sets evoking the golden age of raves out of manchester, england, academic lectures, and a singular drag show benefiting the now shuttered sf Stud, then enveloped ourselves in stream upon stream of the revolution playing out on all of our screens and in the streets outside of all of our doors.

activated back to twenty fourteen. what happened then isn’t at all different than now. only now the entire world’s been sitting locked up at home, present, then, to witness the cops losing their minds over the egregious act of a citizenry rightly fucking expecting some semblance of accountability and to just fucking stop shooting dead Black people, available to flood the streets under the engine of their pent up steam.

paste-up mural, oakland, ca; 1 june 2020.

it took a week before i mustered enough to step out. the covoid giving me pause & paranoia, because before twelve hour dj sets evoking the golden age of raves out of manchester, england, academic lectures, and a singular drag show benefiting the now shuttered sf Stud we’d enveloped ourselves into the covoid, noting each day’s uptick in counts and the slow psychological degradation of our nation’s healthcare workers & system.

oakland tech youth march for george floyd, oakland, ca; 1 june 2020.

it had been one of those beautiful days, a mass of a spectrum of people. people that care. standing up, lifting their voices, demanding justice for those taken, for their surviving mothers and children, and for Black people everywhere, the oakland police nowhere to be found.

7:18 p.m., 8th & broadway, oakland, ca.; 1 june 2020.

until the sun began to set. twenty minutes to curfew. they hadn’t even finished their order to disperse when they shot off so-called non-lethals at what had been nothing other than a peaceful gathering, a model “peaceful protest” the suburbans just love to shake their fingers at us about.

fleeing the area, 8th & broadway, oakland, ca; 1 june 2020.

the same day in washington, d.c.

the clearing of lafayette square, washington, d.c.; 1 june 2020.

the next day in philadelphia.

the clearing of i-676, philadelphia, pennsylvania; 2 june 2020.

on live t.v. in seattle.

reporter jo ling kent on msnbc; 1 june 2020.

& last week, again. at elijiah mcclain’s violin vigil in aurora. a violin vigil. now tell me. you think institutions that foster these sorts of actions against it’s own fucking citizens and journalists is appropriate in a free & open society?

the clearing of the violin vigil in memory of elijiah mcclain, aurora, co; 29 june 2020.

just kidding. it’s not free & open when they claim antifa agitators with molotovs or some such, as oakland chief manheimer did, gaslighting the fuck out of everyone in order to quell all of those voices out in the streets telling their stories.

as many others have said over the last four years – the cruelty is the point.

i’d been watching these kids for a while. just amazed. at their bravery in the face of a brutal state, the brilliance of their ever-developing tactic – “be water.” it’s origin i’d only find out not long ago, watching 30 for 30 needing a break from the now. i’d watch footage of them and once in a while catch something they picked up from us, my eyes welling with tears at the power of interconnection.

their voices were taken last week and i wonder how they will next “be water” and if they’ll even be able to. it really doesn’t look good.

we’re all fucking feeling it. well, all insofar as those of us not watching president dystopian fucklord every night on fox news. i don’t really see hope in much. except for those times i see, “be water.”

the lone distillery that produced hand bottled hand sanitizer strictly for donation and not to sell? they became water.

mutual aid networks helping their neighbors. they’re water.

the migration of tactics across oceans and continents. water.

even those rascally k-pop kids. understood the concept very well.

and it’s the only real answer i have for you right now.

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