I’ve been reading Sojourner Truth’s famous 1851 speech, “Ain’t I a Woman.”
“I could work as much and eat as much as a man, when I could get it, and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne 13 children and seen most of them sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”
.. When Truth asked the group of mostly white women in her audience whether she was a woman, she was not simply pointing to the hypocrisy of Western thought in which nations and “civilized” societies were built on the enslavement, murder and exploitation of women and children. Truth’s question was a provocation, a challenge to a racial structure built on the dehumanization of an entire group of human beings.
.. The barbarity of American slavery should be recalled more often, if only to truly understand the significance of its demise. It was
- the grief of losing one’s child,
- being raped,
- tortured and
- separated from your own
- family and friends at a whim.
.. It was a system that normalized and codified its everyday brutality. It was life in constant fear and punishing, exacting labor. And it was completely legal.
.. Who successfully sued a white man to get back her son.
.. For example, Truth, in fact, had only five children, not 13 — an embellishment attributed to those who later transcribed the speech for the illiterate former slave.
.. I think of her standing in a courtroom to claim her child and I remind myself that this is what freedom means.
.. I participated in the Occupy movement, during which a crossracial coalition of people from New York to Honolulu protested income inequality, gentrification, police brutality and unjust incarceration. The movement had many successes, but in its immediate aftermath we saw widespread crackdowns in cities around the country on people’s ability to interact and exist in urban outdoor spaces — policies that have aided efforts to criminalize the nation’s homeless and pre-emptively arrest other vulnerable populations.
.. In order to have hope, I have to believe that, after the backlash, things — for black Americans and other oppressed people here and around the world — will change again.
.. For black Americans, the struggle of emancipation is riddled with its failures: sharecropping, lynching, segregation, disenfranchisement and brutal, unfair treatment by the criminal justice system.
.. John Lewis said in a recent tweet, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair.
Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime.”
Teeing Off on Trump
When voters have to choose between left and right incivility, Democrats will lose.
“If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station,” Rep. Waters said in her normal habit of discourse—a shout—“you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them.”
.. The media is calling this “the civility feud,” though the word “civility” looks quaint and innocent among this crowd.
.. Can the Democratic Party control its left?
.. History suggests that centrist and independent American voters become uncomfortable when the news is dominated, as increasingly it is now, by the left pushing politics by other means. Voters in the past have turned rightward for solutions.
.. Richard Nixon in part rode the “law and order” issue into the White House during a publicly disordered time. Ronald Reagan ran on order, too.
.. Eventually, Democrats saw they would continue to lose elections if they nominated left-wing presidential candidates like George McGovern or Walter Mondale, and so they turned to centrist Southern governors such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
.. Supporting Sen. Sanders’s Medicare-for-all option is now mandatory writ for the party’s 2020 contenders.
.. The national Democratic template is set: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is it.
.. The always-whirling Mr. Trump is capable of spinning himself off his gyroscope. What he has going for himself is that his opponents are crazed. Mr. Trump knows this, because he keeps feeding their mania.
.. Psychologists will study for years how a candidate and now president whose substantive threat to “our democracy” consists mainly of unprecedented boorishness drove normally temperate people into a frenzy.
.. When the right tips over, it mostly gets grouchy, spending its energies defining people out of conservatism. The problem for the Democratic Party is that its left wing’s frenzies can turn ugly. If politics doesn’t go their way, they go into the streets, or invade a restaurant to shriek at a cabinet secretary.
Over the past week or so, two activist groups in Oregon—Occupy ICE PDX and Direct Action Alliance—have shut down the federal immigration-service building in Portland. “If they arrest us on federal property,” said one organizer, “we’ll shut the roads down. You can’t stop us.”
.. if the choice is between two brands of incivility, the Democratic version generally loses.