Maligned as a Radical

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

House of Representatives

AOC Congress US

A poem written by Alice Walker for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

there is a daughter

for AOC

© 2020 by Alice Walker

there is a daughter
taking the floor
there is a daughter
standing in the light
of her mother’s prayers,
her father’s dreams,
her teachers’ high hopes
as well as in the shadow
of our common disillusionment.

there is a daughter
speaking the truth
that lives in her heart.
there is a daughter
standing alone

taking care
of the Soul
that might have lived
all these years
-if not endlessly stoned –

with verbal rocks
in our House.

Artwork by Gill D. Illustration

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The Trouble with Artists

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In 1845, Leopold I, King of the Belgians, wrote a letter to Queen Victoria, warning her about people like me. :)

The King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

St. Cloud, 10th October 1845.

My Dearest Victoria – All you say about our dear Albert, whom I love like my own child, is perfectly true. The attacks, however unjust, have but one advantage, that of showing the points the enemy thinks weakest and best calculated to hurt. This, being the case, Anson, without boring A. with daily accounts which in the end become very irksome, should pay attention to these very points, and contribute to avoid what may be turned to account by the enemy. To hope to escape censure and calumny is next to impossible, but whatever is considered by the enemy as a fit subject for attack is better modified or avoided. The dealings with artists, for instance, require great prudence; they are acquainted with all classes of society, and for that very reason dangerous; they are hardly ever satisfied, and when you have too much to do with them, you are sure to have des ennuis…

Your devoted Uncle, Leopold R.

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Graffiti by Not For Them Art House

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Step Inside The Circle

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Could it be that the U.S. is in turmoil because too many of us have been living in a myopic bubble?

Is it possible that we haven’t been listening or seeing the way we could have? And haven’t been present to our own humanity, our humaneness and benevolence?

Have millions of us not only lost connection with each other, but have lost the connection to our own heart?

“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” ― Cornel West

“The problem with the world is that we draw the circle of our family too small.” ― Mother Teresa

There is a way to come together and expand our circles. The possibility to rebuild and reconnect is always there.

It just takes heart, and the courage to step forward.

In order for the collective consciousness to change, we must be different. We must think and live differently.

As we open up our eyes, and ears, and hands — our hearts open too. And the healing begins. Not just of the world around us, but the inner healing we all desire.

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” ― Henry David Thoreau

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” ― Rabindranath Tagore

We can do it in our own way. We can choose how we can best serve. But let’s not do it from a comfort zone.

Just like anything else you want to transform and change, (your body, your home, your finances, your relationships, etc..), you have to give something up. You have to work through the discomfort and be daring enough to risk.

The commitment to love and transformation must exceed the primal desire to live with what’s familiar and comfortable.

It has to be so strong that you will be willing to push past the fear and challenges. We must poke at the imagined boundaries and doubts, in order to see what’s on the other side.

“Do some selfless service for people who are in need. Consider the whole picture, not just our little selves.” – Nina Hagen

“It is a mistake always to contemplate the good and ignore the evil, because by making people neglectful it lets in disaster. There is a dangerous optimism of ignorance and indifference.” ― Helen Keller

Powerful questions to ask ourselves: Who can I help? How could I stretch outside my comfort zone? How can I educate myself, develop more empathy and be powerfully accountable for my part in the world? How can I help heal others and myself in the process?

“You have two hands. One to help yourself, the second to help others.” ― Audrey Hepburn

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

I came across the work of Fritzi Horstman this week. Have you heard of her? She’s amazing! I found out about her through this video:

And this interview too:

This is the book Fritzi Horstman mentioned in the second video:

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

And this is Fritzi Horstman’s organization:

Compassion Prison Project
www.compassionprisonproject.org

There are also other great organizations to explore:

Essie Justice Group
www.essiejusticegroup.org/mission/

Defy Ventures
http://www.defyventures.org

National Bail Out
www.nationalbailout.org

Young Women Free
www.youngwomenfree.org

TGI Justice Project
www.tgijp.org/about.html

And can you imagine if these (list below) voices were not heard or helped? Their great works would have never been known. They were written while in prison. As I think of that, I can imagine all of the great works that will NEVER be known. Because people were ruthlessly marginalized and written off by society. We can break that cycle, and other cycles that hurt people. We always have the power to help someone. We can be there (in many ways), to let them know they are seen, loved, heard, and valued.

Examples of those works:

De Profundis, by Oscar Wilde

Soul on Ice, by Eldridge Cleaver

Civil Disobedience and Other Writings, by Henry David Thoreau

Conversations with Myself, by Nelson Mandela

Letters from Birmingham Jail, by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Sleeping With the Enemy, by Wahida Clark

The Enormous Room, E.E. Cummings

Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes

On the Yard, by Malcolm Braly

In the Belly of the Beast, by Jack Abbott

Orange Is The New Black: My Year in a Woman’s Prison, by Piper Kerman

and more.

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Bold, Brave, and Courageous

john_Lewis

33 years in congress.

45 arrests, and thousands of protests.

John Lewis passed away on July 17th. His legacy is an impressive one, and social media is flooded with people giving thanks for the life he led and all of the work he did for others.

There is also a movie about his life.

The following quotes are by John Lewis.

“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.”

“You have to tell the whole truth, the good and the bad, maybe some things that are uncomfortable for some people.”

“I want to see young people in America feel the spirit of the 1960s and find a way to get in the way. To find a way to get in trouble. Good trouble, necessary trouble.”

“You must be bold, brave, and courageous and find a way… to get in the way.”

“You have to be persistent.”

“You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong, is not right.”

“I believe race is too heavy a burden to carry into the 21st century. It’s time to lay it down. We all came here in different ships, but now we’re all in the same boat.”

“The scars and stains of racism are still deeply embedded in the American society.”

“There is a need for a movement of non-violent direct action.”

Artwork by Nicholas Konrad

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Art + Science = Joy Buolamwini

joy_buolamwini

I love when I discover people that blow me away. Joy Buolamwini definitely one of them. She is a poet of code on a mission to show compassion through computation. She’s a Rhodes Scholar, Fulbright Fellow, Google Anita Borg Scholar, Astronaut Scholar, A Stamps President’s Scholar and Carter Center technical consultant. She holds two masters degrees from Oxford University and MIT; and a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology. I’ll let her work speak for itself, through these embedded videos. Also, join the Algorithmic Justice League! Stay up to date with her journey.

Joy Buolamwini

Joy-Buolamwini-A-I

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Adrian Piper : Think About It

Adrian_PiperPiper_1970

The voices (and works) of the past are coming in strong and are louder than ever. Everything that is happening today, the unrest and the breakthroughs, are built on the persistent work of those that proceeded it. We have so many to thank.

Adrian Piper, Thank you for the work you have made since the 1960s. Thank you for who you’ve been and for who you continue to be. Your presence is powerful and your contribution is beyond measure.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York held a major career retrospective for Adrian Piper in 2018, the largest show ever for a living artist. And the Hammer Museum is Los Angeles, known for its permanent collection of historical art presented a 50 year survey of her work. But the artist they were praising declined the invitation to attend. Piper was not present for the exhibitions, because she refused to return to the United States. Not even the holy grail of art world honors could bring her back.

photo of adrian piper

Adrian-Piper

An American conceptual artist and philosopher, Adrian Piper’s work addresses professional ostracism, otherness, racial passing, and racism by using various traditional and non-traditional media to provoke self-analysis. Piper was born in New York City on September 20, 1948. She received a master’s in philosophy from Harvard University in 1977 and her doctorate in 1981. In the 1970’s she was kicked out of the art world for her race and sex. Her work started to address attitudes around racism, intending to help people confront their racist views.

Piper taught at Wellesley College, Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Michigan, Georgetown University, and University of California, San Diego. In 1991, she became the first female African-American philosophy professor to receive academic tenure in the United States. Wellesley College terminated her tenured full professorship in 2008. During that time she was on the U.S. Transportation Security Administration Watch List. In 2015, she was awarded the Golden Lion for best artist in the international exhibition of the Venice Biennale. Adrian Piper currently lives in Berlin, Germany.

Whut choo Adrian Piper

Image: Adrian Piper, Self-Portrait as a Nice White Lady, 1995

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Image: Everything #2.8, Adrian Piper, 2003

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Image: Everything #2.13, Adrian Piper, 2003

Video: Keynote speaker Jörg Heiser, on the work of Adrian Piper

The following images and text are works and words of Adrian Piper.

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Image: Decide Who You Are #1, Adrian Piper, 1992

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Image: Detail from “Everything #21, Adrian Piper, 2010-13

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Image: Pretend #3, Adrian Piper, 1990 “Pretend not to know what you know”

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Adrian_Piper Art

Images: Close to Home, 2 of 15 photographs, Adrian Piper, 1987

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pretend adrian piper

1991 adrian piper

Image: Pretend #2, Adrian Piper, 1990 “Pretend not to know what you know”

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Image: Think About It, Adrian Piper, 1987, mock-up for billboard design

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Image: Adrian Piper, Catalysis IV, 1970. Photographer Rosemary Mayer

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Image: My Calling Card #1 and #2, Adrian Piper (1986-1990)

Adrian Piper Portrait

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Image: The Mythic Being: Say It Like You Mean It, Adrian Piper, 1975

“I am identified as “black” by others, both “black” and “white,” only when this serves to enhance their own social status, and not otherwise. Identifying myself as “black” had also very often served this function for me. I had regarded it as an honor and a privilege to be counted among the members of a community that had proved its mettle, its intelligence, and its genius by surviving and sometimes flourishing amid the most resourceful and sustained effort to destroy its humanity the world has ever seen.”

Adrian_Piper_Mother copy

Image: I Am Some Body, the Body of My Friends, #1-18, 1992-95, 1 of 18 photographs. Photo of Adrian Piper and her mother, when she was suffering from emphysema, towards the end of her life.

Adrian Piper safe 1990

Image: Safe #1–4, Adrian Piper (1990) “We are around you”

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Image: Safe, 1 of 4 framed photographs and audio, Adrian Piper, 1990 “You are safe”

black artist adrian piper

“I’m black.

Now, let’s deal with this social fact, and the fact of my stating it, together.

Maybe you don’t see why we have to deal with it together. Maybe you think it’s just my problem and that I should deal with it by myself.

But it’s not just my problem. It’s our problem.”

.

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Love Is Love!

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“No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us”, are the powerful words of Micah Bazant, that are linked to the spirit of Marsha P. Johnson.

Illustration of Marsha P. Johnson by @beeillustrates

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People Are Showing Up & Speaking Out

say black lives matter

2020 protests

black lives matter protest

Maria Shriver protesting for Black Lives Matter.

maria shriver black lives matter

“So many people have said to me in the past few weeks that they feel helpless and don’t know what to do or say. I tell them what I tell myself: When you lay there in bed in the dark of night, imagine the country you want to live in. Imagine the leaders you want to rally around. Imagine the ideas that make you feel hopeful. Imagine your best-case scenario. Then, pick a lane and get to work.

Do you want a better climate? Get to work. Do you want to fight against racism? Get to work. Do you want to push for gender equality? Get to work. Do you want to close the gap in health care disparities? Get to work. Do you want a different kind of media? Get to work. Do you want criminal justice or police reform? New gun laws? Mental health parity? A more inclusive church? You know what to do.

The work ahead of us is not for the faint of heart. Every one of us must put on our thinking caps and imagine a more evolved, inclusive, and equitable world. Yes, there is a lot to do, but that is not an excuse to do nothing.”

Quote by Maria Shriver

Natalie Portman shares thoughts on defunding the police.

natalie portman black lives matter

“When I first heard #defundthepolice, I have to admit my first reaction was fear. My whole life, police have made me feel safe. But that’s exactly the center of my white privilege: the police make me as a white woman feel safe, while my black friends, family and neighbors feel the opposite: police make them feel terror. And for good reason. Police are the 6th leading cause of death for black men in this country. These are not isolated incidents. They are patterns and part of the system of over-policing of black Americans. Reforms have not worked. Minneapolis, where George Floyd was murdered, is one of the most progressive police forces in the country, having undergone extensive anti-bias training. I am grateful to the leaders in the @mvmnt4blklives who have made us question the status quo. And who have made us imagine, what a world could be like in which we invested in nourishing people; (in their education, healthcare, environment, shelter)— rather than putting all of our money into punishment. I’ve gotten to the age in my life, where if my gut feels uncomfortable, I take the situation as wrong. But this concept initially made me uncomfortable because I was wrong. Because the system that makes me feel comfortable is wrong.”

Quote by Natalie Portman

Seth Godin shines a light on white supremacy.

seth godin black lives matter

“The systemic, cruel and depersonalizing history of Black subjugation in my country has and continues to be a crime against humanity. It’s based on a desire to maintain power and false assumptions about how the world works and how it can work. It’s been amplified by systems that were often put in place with mal-intent, or sometimes simply because they felt expedient. It’s painful to look at and far more painful to be part of or to admit that exists in the things that we build.

We can’t permit the murder of people because of the color of their skin. Institutional racism is real, it’s often invisible, and it’s pernicious.

And White Supremacy is a loaded term precisely because the systems and their terrible effects are very real, widespread and run deep.

The benefit of the doubt is powerful indeed, and that benefit has helped me and people like me for generations. I’m ashamed of how we got here, and want to more powerfully contribute and model how we can get better, together.

It doesn’t matter how many blog posts about justice I write, or how clear I try to be about the power of diversity in our organizations. Not if I’m leaving doubt about the scale and enormity of the suffering that people feel, not just themselves, but for their parents before them and for the kids that will follow them.

It’s easier to look away and to decide that this is a problem for someone else. It’s actually a problem for all of us. And problems have solutions and problems are uncomfortable.”

Quote by Seth Godin

Illustrations by Meenal Patel Studio

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