I’m too Radical for the Violence of the so-called “Antifas”

Writing

I think that the only way I can make this comprehensible to you is to talk in terms of pain. We can follow the faultlines along my body, and trace the damage. Let’s start at the feet, the nerve damage the developed when he would hold me down while he raped me as a toddler. The nerve damage from the hard labor. I’m 29, and some days my compression socks are the only thing standing in the way of me being fully bedridden. These aren’t from the Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. We’ve traced my injuries back to every single memory. The damaged shoulder is from it being dislocated by my parents when they raped me and I struggled.

The knee? I injured that resisting rapes (it turns out that if a small child locks her knees together, it takes a lot of force to separate them and my knee paid for that).

The neck? Is that from the attempted stranglings?

Those scars on my wrist? The time they tried to kill me.

My hands? Hard labor, intentionally sprained wrists and the push to succeed did that.

My ankle is worse because of the rapes while I recovered from surgery after I broke it.

You can see the damage of oppression in my medical chart.

All this physical evidence and no one saw it until my husband did.

Why?

Because I was poor. Because I was white. Because I was accomplished. Because I didn’t look and sound like a victim. Because I was resistant.

Resisting made things so much worse. They did everything they could to break me. They raped me in front of my siblings. They beat me. They punished me when I volunteered to take those hits for someone else. There was nothing they hated more than after ALL THAT, after decades of torture and abuse, after even being exposed to the different forms of oppression at Stanford, I was still kind. Resistant as hell, but not once could they convince me to hurt innocent people. They couldn’t make me into a monster.

If you think that in the course of this time I never wanted to be violent or that being resistant without being violent was easier, you have no fucking idea what you are talking about. It took a tremendous amount of discipline and strength to endure all of that and come out the other side still preaching love and nonviolence. But I have been tested and I have been through the fire, and I have risen out of the ashes over and over again to say the same thing.

We can talk about the morality of violence. It is just wrong to hurt innocent people, if you don’t think so, then you are the monster. But doing violence changes you in ways you can’t take back. I know because I watched the way they destroyed my sister. Her fury and the way she beat my brother and me was never a sign of strength but a sign of profound pain. I didn’t envy her, I just felt bad for her, which is why I often took those beatings.

But violence is also ineffective against actual monsters because we will never out-monster them. True pyschopaths and sociopaths WANT us to be them. They won’t respond badly to violence because that is the world they believe in. We will never be as cruel as them. We will never be able to hurt people as well as them. This is asymmetrical warfare and when you up against a stronger enemy, you have to be more careful and strategic.

There are so many times I would have died if I had made a single mistake. Had I been just a few seconds delayed, the fire might have engulfed my brother and me both. Had I freaked out instead of putting the fire out while in extreme pain, I would be dead.

If the train hadn’t come at exactly the right time, something I had planned and stalled for, I would be dead.

And if I hadn’t told my neighbor to keep an eye on the house the night they tried to stab me, I would be dead. There was no room for error. I could not make mistakes. I could not let emotions drive me. I had other people’s lives on the line, and had I died, more would have followed.

So I’m not someone who is saying this without experiencing oppression. If you know an American with an more harrowing story of oppression, I’d like to meet them so I can have more friends. I’m not saying this as some pansy nonviolent advocate. I have family in the military, and I believe there is a time and place to fight. I’m not saying this because I’m conservative and I think peace and harmony are more important.

First of all, if you showed up to the radical circles I hang with, we’d all be like, “I don’t know her.” I was giving lectures on the way racism is used to divide the masses in 2010 before it was cool. I helped start the movement for poor and working class kids on college campuses. I’m an anti-racist trained teacher with a Master’s degree in education who once got in trouble in grad school for including the Black Panthers in her curriculum. I’ve worked at domestic violence shelters, as a special needs paraprofessional in one of the roughest neighborhoods in the Bay. I wrote one of my admission essays on how the homeless man on the bus who was missing an arm and a leg was the person society should most revere.

You wanna play out-radicalize, kids? Well, you in the big leagues now, sweethearts. And in the big league, we do our homework. So you can’t make that argument.

I disagree with you because I think what you are doing is wrong and ineffective based on life experience and a comprehensive study of social movements around the world. I’m against it because I don’t think it is going to work, and seeing as how I’ve never seen an explanation for how pepper spraying old people would have stopped Hitler, I’m not holding my breath that you even know why you are doing what you are doing.

But this isn’t even close to our only option. And these so-called “antifas” aren’t even close to our only option for leadership in solving the serious problems we face. They don’t know this because they have NO FUCKING IDEA what they are doing. Do you really think MLK didn’t weigh the benefits and consequences of your actions? That you are better at the game than him? That you know more than your grassroots folks? That you know more than people who have been studying and doing this for longer than you’ve been alive? Is it because your parents told you that you were special too many times?

But I also want to be clear. I think the so-called “antifas” are weak willed children who demonstrated that they aren’t fit for leadership. I don’t think they are “strong” or showing Trump who is boss. I think they are fucking babies. I endured actual torture for years and I still have the discipline to plan my actions around how they affect others. I have severe PTSD. My childhood makes McCain’s torture experiences in Vietnam look relatively tame. And I am telling you that this violence and chaos is not strength.

It is the refuge of weak-willed monsters. And if you think it is going to be you dumb fucks that are going to turn me into a monster when my own mother couldn’t do that, you are arrogant at a disturbing level.

I blame your parents, for raising you to believe you are gods among men.

And babies, my sweet, dear babies, I know exactly how to take down Goliaths.

 

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Stop Letting the College Kids Be in Charge

Writing

I got dragged into meetings a lot while I was in college, because if you are really a threat to the status quo, people will try to change your behavior. Fortunately for me, people took the time to help me develop, so as irritating as these meetings were, occasionally I learned something important from attending them.

I was talking to one of the university administrators that dealt with diversity issues and who was also queer identified. Complaining about my classmates and the enormously awful things they used to say in class This isn’t mild microagression stuff where people were being vague in their bigotry either, this is stuff like, “poor people deserve to go to war more often because they are better at killing. ” And stuff like, “don’t you just hate everyone in your neighborhood because they are like, trash, and you aren’t.”I mean, don’t get me wrong, I got the milder stuff too. Except when people asked me where I was from, they were sometimes black. The world was dark for the most outspoken, strongly self-identified working class activist on campus.

But the administration team had high expectations for me, and so they said, “honestly, Heather, a lot of this has to do with your age. Your classmates are still learning. So are you.”

Boy was that administrator right.

I WAS A FUCKING NIGHTMARE IN COLLEGE.

You know how radical the current crop of college activists is? Yeah, well, add some actual well-read Marxism, some righteous anger about having been poor and abused, and the influence of punk rock. I probably had a conduct disorder, but I was at Stanford anyway. And I drank, like a fish, to cope. So a typical Friday night involved me making my classmates cry about how privileged they were for sport. All the kids coming up after me who think they do this now are just pretenders.

I talked about incest at actual dinner parties. Freshman year, I made one of my male classmates hate me forever when I made a public performance of my personal protest about his having the Latina girls in my dorm do laundry. I made people break down in class, often. Men feared me, and some would go to parties just to see what crazy stuff they could get me to say.

And I was pissed about really valid shit. Don’t get me wrong or mistake what I am trying to say. I was right to be angry about classism, about sexual violence, racism and I was right to hate everything about that culture. But I had no idea how to express that anger in a constructive way, and I was too angry to see anyone else’s pain even when it was obviously there.

This was partially a function of my age. At 19, no matter how smart you are, or how much life experience you have, or even how talented an activist you are, there are certain things you just don’t know that you still need to learn.

One of those things, impulse control which (as evidenced by the professor that just got beaten by her own students) is a challenge that developmentally comes with time. Another thing is how to not follow a crowd, or not act like a complete asshole just because everyone else is doing it. I learned that one much younger than most, but others tell me that ideally children are supposed to learn that sometime before college. Based on the behavior of the college students who keep having struggle sessions against other marginalized people, this is clearly not a skill many of our college students (who to be honest are almost entirely rich and middle class) currently possess. No one who is getting lectures should be giving lectures.

I was part of the founding team of folks who were working on class and first gen issues. My work at 19 can be traced to the existence of first gen offices and the resurgence of class identity on college campuses. I’m damn proud of what I accomplished as a dumb kid, and my resume is far more stacked than most of the kids that are operating now.

BUT EVEN WITH ALL THAT, I can promise you that I am grateful everyday that an administrator or professor at Stanford encouraged me while keeping my voice on campus.

Freedom Summer participants weren’t given the control over their movements either. They operated, with extensive training, under the direction of activists like Bob Moses and Fannie Lou Hamer. And, frankly, I believe that the entire Civil Right’s movement of the 60s, pretty much got off the rails the minute the rich kids got back to their campuses and started treating activism like a popularity contest and rock concert.

That’s who I blame for the failures of the 60s and so does most of the rest of the country.

The elite college grads don’t have a great track record overseas either: the entire Cultural Revolution can be traced to largely the same phenomena.

Don’t get me wrong, we need their voices and we need their work. And they need to be trained during these years, but I think they’ve demonstrated that they can’t be IN CHARGE OF SETTING THE AGENDA and making the final call about tactics anymore. No one gave me that power at 19 and I had very serious problems, like PTSD, to discuss. I’m not sure why we are allowing them to set the agenda now.

What I am even more grateful for, is that I was raised with an ethos that you respect your elders.

These college kids think they know better than the people who have been doing it longer than them. And here’s the thing, those people are just as smart as them but have more experience, which makes them MORE QUALIFIED TO BE IN CHARGE. The fact that the college kids can’t recognize that makes me worry about the future.

Being in charge is a real and painful responsibility. I know because I never had a childhood, and I’ve been appointed a leader in my community for longer than I can remember.

It is hard. And if it is fun, you are doing it wrong. The responsibility and the the enormity of the task should haunt you.

Playtime is over when lives are at stake, and since I saved my brother from a fire when I was four, I’ve been keenly aware of that responsibility. So it worries me whenever someone wants to be in charge, but what worries me even more is when people lack the self reflection to even recognize when they shouldn’t be in charge.

One of the best classroom teachers I’ve ever met once said to me that the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher was the process of self reflection. We have to instill the belief that people should examine themselves.

All day, everyday.

Not scream about how mean people are when they point out that your tactics are likely to backfire during planning discussions where we are supposed to be professionals who care about others and serving the masses.

But I’ve also been loved by elders, and there’s something special about the people who DON’T HAVE to take an interest in you, who don’t have to deal with your incredibly shitty attitude, and who take aside the time to save you. I’ve got tons of those, and I learned from them.

They taught me that I was no smarter than prostitutes, or my grandparents or my teachers. They taught me that even if I was, I still had things to learn. They taught me about when grown folks was talking and in the process taught me how to be a grown folk.

At 19, I would have been a BAD LEADER for a national movement. I would have been mostly because my rage was still uncontrolled, but also because there are a lot of things that come with life experience. I have gained a lot of empathy and ways of speaking in the last few years just from my relationship with my husband. The fact that I fell so in love with someone with such a different background changed everything about how I approach my work. The fact that I’m now married has forced me to accept responsibility and maturity in a way I otherwise wouldn’t have. Pre-married Heather was likely to light some fires and go out like a crazy person when Trump got elected. Married Heather has responsibilities and has to plan better.

I was a much worse activist before I became a teacher, and I wouldn’t be half the teacher I am if not for the mentoring and wisdom of an veritable army of older men and women who guided me through that process. And I know this because I’ve had the time and distance to reflect on my actions and behaviors. 19 year old Heather was not this smart, reflective and mature, and 19 year old Heather was arguably one of the most qualified college students of that time to be leading a movement.

So here is my plea to the adults: Let’s stop pretending we don’t know this is true because we are afraid of discouraging people. Anyone who is unwilling to put the work in, and listen to other people or reflect on their behavior does not have leadership qualities in the first place.

Anyone who resorts to physical violence or emotional bullying hasn’t learned how to behave like a grown up. They’ve demonstrated that they are not developmentally ready for the task.

Real leaders can control their behavior. These should be baseline qualifications for who gets mentored and handed the microphone. Even Malala had her dad, and Malala has yet to see her best work. I can basically guarantee that.

College is a special time and place, and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to argue, debate, and learn from my classmates. I’m a better speaker, writer, and activist because of every white boy who was willing to engage me and learn from me, and I think most of them would say they are better at what they do because of their friendship with me (unless they were traumatized by what I did to them in which case, I’m sorry, I was young).

The funny thing about those white boys is that they are people too. (Edit note: ACTUALLY IN COLLEGE IT WASN’T JUST THE WHITE FOLKS. AND ALSO IT WAS GIRLS TOO, STOP LETTING THEM OFF THE HOOK, SOME OF THE GIRLS SAID SOME OF THE WORST STUFF, THEY DON’T GET A PASS BECAUSE OF THEIR GENDER. NO ONE GETS A PASS. NOT EVEN ME).

They were people when they were learning in college, and as awkward as it was to be invited to lunch to talk about my childhood like a token, I’m happy about every lunch I went on. Either they learned something or I learned how to talk to people better. If all of our activists behaved this way, it’d be a lot easier to push an anti-racist, pro-working class and feminist agenda.

So here is my plea: stop treating this struggle like it can be run by a bunch of self-contained and disconnected brats who have no life experience.

There are people who are really truly suffering who need our help and these college kids need to be trained before they are useful. No one should be leading on a national level without some frontline service work behind them. They should have some actual success and the demonstrated commitment to the cause of the suffering of all before they are given a national platform to operate. They need to learn how to do research, and care for kids, and show up and take down chairs, and sweep floors before they can make themselves useful to any of the people they claim to serve.

They need to know what it is to serve.

They need to know who the masses are.

They need to not put their issues at the center of the struggles for people more marginalized than them.

They should be able to recognize those people without their professor’s checklist for what the marginalized are (First of all, most of the professors can’t remember either because they haven’t seen the masses in a long time, but secondly, the word oppressed has meaning and they should be able to recognize it independently without help before the training wheels come off).

The fact is, we aren’t even serving them when we give them as much power as we have over the last few years. We should all be ashamed of ourselves. The adults fucked up real bad by abdicating their responsibility in the name of self esteem.

And like adults, we should roll our sleeves up and get to work.

It’s already too late.

Because Trump is President and the left lost so badly, they still are trying to develop amnesia about it.

But the conservatives may be in power a long time, so the time to be forgetful is over.

Now is only the time to plan and to sweep and to teach.

Some of you must remember what that’s like?

You sure remembered it in my case.

And for that, I am grateful.

Fuck You and Your Privilege Knapsack

Writing

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been dealing with an actual flood of recovered, horrible memories and the resulting somaticized pain that accompanies their discovery. What follows is a list of reasons I no longer have to listen to anymore privilege lectures from anyone unless they qualify with the conditions below. Try to make it through this whole list before you vomit.

1) I’m an actual childhood sex trafficking victim. Yeah. That’s my starter. Should be sufficient. Before you romanticize that or imagine it was less bad than it was, let me make things clear. It started when I was at least 6. My mom knew about it. My father was the one who sold me, and it happened SEVERAL times with multiple men at truck stops.

2) I was born the bastard of drug addicted psychopaths. My familial attempted kill count is now up 5 independently confirmed. These were not all the same family member. This does not count the drug fueled mock execution when I was six.

3) I’ve been homeless, my neighborhood was in a food desert, and I’ve lived in government housing. When my neighborhood finally got a library, it was an hour walk away and contained none of the classics.

4) I have severe chronic pain from the rapes, beatings and manual labor I endured as a small child. X-rays show the development of arthritis in my spine which doctors could not figure out the cause of until learning about the abuse.

5) I have gone hungry quite a lot of times. This was sometimes done on purpose to me by my mother to force me into the sex trafficking. I have permanent nutritional deficiencies.

6) My high school counselor told me people “like me” didn’t need to go to college. She was black. Working class whites are extremely under-represented in the media, and when they are portrayed, it has been in a degrading and derogatory manner (see: Shameless, Sons of Anarchy, The Outsiders). Because I’m mixed race and also not totally white, I often fail to pass even when I am in academic settings, where I speak the academic language. There are still words I mispronounce because I never heard them said out loud. When I got to college my classmates actively went around correcting my speech and speaking down to me. They called me “articulate.”
7) When I got to college, treatment for my mental illness, PTSD, was not covered by my insurance. No members of the mental health staff qualified to handle it. I am frequently interrogated by authority figures as to whether or not I even have PTSD. When they finally believe me, I am profiled because of it despite having put one of my abusers away for life.
8) I have been denied medical care because of my class background. I’ve been denied access to places because of my appearance.
9) When I got to college there were no support services for people like me because I was poor and white and therefore didn’t fall under the umbrella of existing organizations. I had to create those resources.
10) I’ve been pulled out of school to baby-sit my sister. I also had to teach myself how to read. I was the first in my family to go to college and had to figure out how to apply to on my own.When I took the SATs, I had to ask my friend’s mom for a ride because the only testing center was too far for the first bus to reach in time.

These are just ten off the top of my head. For the last many years I’ve been getting privilege lectures from people who claim that my white privilege somehow protected me from the horrors I’ve been trying to be upfront about.

Instead of letting me speak, many of you thought it was better FOR THE CHILDHOOD SEX TRAFFICKING VICTIM to be told that her white privilege made her irrelevant.

All of these things happened to me in California.

I did not live through the Dustbowl.

So from here on out, the only people allowed to give me any privilege lectures are those that can check ALL OF THESE off their personal lists. And I would suggest that maybe the rich only lecture each other and keep their mouths shut around the poor. I didn’t hide these facts about myself; I was ignored and gaslighted into silence. From now on, if you have some residual societal anger you wish to express you can punch upwards and take them out on someone who has power. Taking them out on me just makes you part of the sociopathic brigade that has destroyed my body but not my spirit.

YOU TRIFLIN’ BITCHES HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO DESTROY THAT BECAUSE I AM A GODDAMN WIZARD AND A MUTANT. Be grateful I am not also vengeful.

Or am I?

How Real Men Would Handle Milo

Writing

I’m sick of these so-called “anti-fas” cowardly fucks on the left who claim they are fighting on behalf of the oppressed while showing up in masks hurting innocent citizens and failing to actually effectively get our message across. They make us look weak and they make it hard to determine who the actual fascists are. They also just look like cowards. This is NOT how real men handle their problems where I come from, so let me show you how this is actually done.

Your issue is with what Milo is saying, right? You believe our side is right, correct? You believe we got the evidence and we are strong enough to handle a debate like grown ups, right?

 

Ok, well, then I’m calling Milo out.

Milo, I challenge you to a debate. You pick the stage and the time and I’ll be happy to come and debate you on some issues I think are important to our side. Here are some terms I think both sides can agree to.

  • This is an intellectual and academic debate, which means intellectual and academic rules hold. No fallacies and both sides get a fact checker of their choosing to check the other side. As a classroom teacher, I banned the basic fallacies including ad hominem and hasty generalization, but I’m willing to talk out a list in advance of possible fallacies we can take off the table as well as other logic rules you might want to hold me to.
  • Three topics chosen each, in advance I’m telling you mine are: poverty, education, and veterans issues. I think the questions should be chosen and moderated by an independent body and given to both sides in advance for research purposes in the interest of fairness and because I want this to be a thoughtful and intelligent debate. You are welcome to pick any topics you like. For the purposes of preparation, I’ll be happy to give you the contents of my body of work.
  • I want a panel moderation that represents a broad ideological spectrum of hard hitting elders. We can negotiate how that is selected and who will serve on that panel. I suggest three, one selected by each of us, the third selected by the other two panelists.

Email me if you down to handle this like a real man. The rest of these leftists are pretenders. My email is Mrs.Raffin@Protonmail.com

 

Sanders isn’t Holding the Democratic Party Hostage. I AM.

Writing

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-d-rosenstein/bernie-sanders-should-not_b_13913148.html

Here’s how delusional the Establishment is, they think that they don’t have to examine their behavior after suffering the most devastating and humiliating loss in modern history to a racist man who joked about sexual assault on film. And apparently it’s mean to even suggest otherwise. They also think it is mean to even suggest that they lost and have to give up some power to the people in the party who suggested that their tactics weren’t going to work. They think it is being HELD HOSTAGE when their working class says, “hey, you have to represent us.” WHICH IS SANDERS’ JOB. This is just his job, it is the job of representatives to say, “you have to represent the people, and I’m going to push you to.” This whole article is a transparent attempt on the part of party elites to tell the working class members of the party that they aren’t allowed to talk. These are classic silencing tactics and there is no reason why we should listen to them. They think their platform was “the most progressive in history” and never ask who it was the most progressive for? I don’t remember there being a whole lot in there for the poor, even though we tried to push that in there, and I seem to remember several people telling me I had to accept this to “Stop Trump” or else. Well, they failed to stop Trump, so I’m not sure what excuse they have to keep me quiet now. And they think that all the Sanderistas are independents who aren’t actual members of the party. Despite the fact that this has been proven to be false several times.

So, allow me to pop some bubbles and bring them up to speed on the actual hostage situation they are now in.

1) You lost. You lost big and because you lost, the elements of the party, which are the Sanders folks, now get to take the party over because that’s how the game is played. You can whine about it. You can fight it. But this is inevitable. And it ain’t a hostage situation. This is a hostile takeover and the name of your enemy isn’t Bernie Sanders. The name is Heather Raffin and if you were real feminists you’d give a bitch credit. There are a bunch of me around the country who are sick of you failing to represent us. Who are sick of being treated poorly and who are sick of people bullying us into supporting a party that not only doesn’t represent us in any tangible, meaningful way, but is also actively oppressing us while expecting pats on the back in the process. We DON’T HAVE TO DO anything for you. You need to explain us why we should help you.

2) I’ve been a card carrying Democrat since I was 18. I’ve registered voters. Caucused for you. Increased turnout. I come with a veritable army of working class people that will follow my votes with me and if I leave the party, they will decide what to do themselves like adults, but I promise you that they trust me a lot more than they trust you. TEST ME and see what happens.

3) Your platform was not the “most progressive” in history. It was progressive FOR RICH PEOPLE. It had no tangible benefits for the poor. For that, you have to go back to FDR and LBJ, but you don’t remember that because y’all don’t remember your roots. Well, your working class hasn’t forgotten. We remember and we pass that shit around through oral history. And we are taking the party back for their rightful owners whether you like it or not. You can get out of the way or you can fall. The choice is yours, but don’t blame it on Sanders. You brought this on yourselves.

4) You fucks have been running around laughing about how funny it is that white trash like me will die under Trump. You’ve been doing nothing while my friends have to worry about their baby dying. You have sat back and passed symbolic legislation that puts the poor in more danger while exploiting our labor and expecting pats on the back. This makes you my enemy, not my ally. According to the laws of MY PEOPLE, I have everything I need to justify using everything in my arsenal to take you out. And yet, here I am kindly giving you a warning about what is coming for you if you don’t change your tune. That’s because, unlike you, I have a sense of honor and dignity. That’s me being nice. You should be grateful we are being so kind. You are lucky you are getting this much warning after how you treated us. If I were you, I wouldn’t complain about it.

5) The Republicans are offering to talk about class and to deal with the issues the working class face, you are not. They’ve mentioned this to several Sanderistas in public while you’ve been publishing this bullshit. GIVE ME ONE GOOD REASON WHY I SHOULDN’T TAKE THEM UP ON IT?

That’s right folks. If you don’t change your tune, we have an alternative. In exactly a month, if the following conditions aren’t met, I will LEAVE the Democrat party and encourage the rest to come with me. I will re-register as a independent and support candidates regardless of their party affiliations who back the needs of the working class exclusively. I will continue to organize the working classes, and I will do absolutely everything in my power to take down what remains of the rich among the left who can’t pull their heads out of their asses and do what is right for the poor. From here on out, I am making it my personal mission to COME FOR EACH AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU RICH FUCKS THAT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE POOR. I CONSIDER YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR TRUMP’S PRESIDENCY.

If the following conditions are met within the next month, I will remain within the party and continue to try to work within it. NOW YOU ARE IN A HOSTAGE SITUATION. I hope now you’ve learned an important lesson about checking your fucking rhetoric.

1) You don’t have to make Keith Ellison the head of the party, but I want a Sanderista, and I consider the placement of Rahm Emmanuel as the head of the party a Declaration of War.

2) I want a party platform that includes the input of actual working class people with progressive economic policies that include things that benefit working families and large swathes of the population. I want this process to include actual consultation with the working classes and I want it working class led.

3) I want a microphone and exposure given to working class people similar to what was given to Diamond and Silk. http://www.diamondandsilkinc.com/

4) I want the rich members of the party to stop engaging in bigoted rhetoric towards members of the poor, including poor whites. I want them to accept a backseat role in activism. I want them to give up leadership positions to working class and grassroots activists and I want the focus of the left to change to problems of the poor.

5) I want the party to deal with voter suppression and to admit that there were problems during the primaries. I want the party to advocate for a national holiday for voters so that everyone has the opportunity to vote and I want the left to organize voter ID drives like they used to do.

6) I want the adults on the left to actually get the bullies under control. No more ruining the lives of innocent people. This means no more going after people’s jobs for tweets. This means no more purging of dissenters. This means that the college students are exposed for the brats they are. This also means that the left disavows and repudiates any tactics that puts innocents and the working classes at greater risk under a Trump administration.

THIS IS A START TO FIXING THE PROBLEMS YOU NOW FACE. You guys can fall in line on this or you can fall. I don’t care. We got three years before 2020 and I have the more compelling narrative on my side and the facts. You wanna underestimate us, go ahead. Every time you do, you make this much easier for me. You wanna try to purge me? Go ahead. You make this easier for me. Ignore me? Go ahead? You are proving my point. I suggest you take the deal I am offering you now and save the position you presently hold because we don’t even have to let you have that.

Trump got elected on your watch. So we don’t owe you shit.

This isn’t a hostage situation. YOUR ASS IS BEING RIGHTEOUSLY DETHRONED AND MY NEW NAME IS KHALESSI.

Sanders was as nice as y’all were going to do. You should have gone with him. Attack him again and see what happens.

I Hate Most of You, But I Still Wouldn’t Let Trump Kill You

Writing

Let me explain something to you, to all of you on the left. I hate the vast majority of you. I think your ideologies are stupid and that half the time you are acting as the oppressor. Every single leftist connected group and organization has does something actively horrible and oppressive, personally, to me over the last 28 years. But if Trump tries to oppress you, I still consider it my responsibility to try to stop it the best I can, because that’s what a real leader does.

I ain’t Mexican but if Trump comes for Mexican people I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit back and let him come for the Mexican people I love, and if you don’t have anyone who fits that demographic that you love, maybe you are the problem.

I ain’t queer but if Trump comes for queer people, I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit back and let him come for the queer people that I love and if  you don’t feel that way about people you claim to love, maybe you are part of the problem.

I ain’t black but if Trump comes for black people, I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit back and let him do that shit on my watch without any opposition. You don’t come for people I love without my fighting like hell for you.

I have people I love in every marginalized group in the leftist coalition and I have since I was a kid and we fucking look out for each other. He comes for one of us, he comes for all of us.

But even if I didn’t have people that I loved in these categories, even if I hadn’t experienced poverty and gender violence and oppression firsthand, I would still fight anyone who would seek to hurt other human beings because that is the right thing to do. It is just the right thing to do. Everything I have ever done in social justice has been for someone else. I did not benefit in any tangible way from starting FLIP. I alienated myself socially, professionally, and personally defending the marginalized. I have a list of actual physical beatings I have taken for other people and injuries I’ve endured defending the defenseless. I did this stuff while I was homeless, while I was sick, while I was myself being tortured and abused. I don’t do any of this shit for me or what I can get out of it and I sure as fuck don’t do it for my mental health. This is service, if you aren’t willing to do it, that’s fine. This isn’t for everyone and I respect that, but if you call yourself a leader then the first thing you need to learn is that it isn’t about you. If your work costs you nothing, I doubt it is as subversive as you think it is.

 

I don’t stand in solidarity with specific groups or ideologies. I don’t have particularly strong affinities for any of your parties or for the work that most of the left does. I’ve never had a home on the left, and the left has done almost as much to oppress me as the conservatives. I do my work in solidarity with the people and the children. If you can’t handle doing that, it’s not something I would brag about and it certainly isn’t a legitimate policy position for a movement to have.

 

And before you lecture me about self care, I don’t want to hear it. I’ve been going through a hell that none of you can even imagine over the last month and I have still managed to be strategic and thoughtful in my organizing. Let me tell you about some memories that I’ve been battling over the last month and half since Trump has been elected and you guys have been whining about the mourning you still have to while giving a fascist advanced warning of terrorist acts that you half-assedly planned. I’ll name just three, but there are more. 1) It turns out that my family has tried to kill me on four separate occasions all occurring before the age of 13, two of which happened when I was an infant. 2) When I was 9, I was so violently raped by my father as punishment for resisting his advances that I needed 6 stitches in my vagina. My own mother helped him cover it up. 3) I was trafficked as a child more than once , at least as early as 8.

I’ve been spending the last month and half processing all of that while listening you guys whine and complain and give privilege lectures, and you guys can’t even be bothered to properly plan things so that you don’t screw over the working class with your bullshit. So look, if you don’t want to stand in solidarity with all childhood trafficking victims, and everyone who has gone hungry and anyone who might be the target of state repression, then fine. Now you are corroborating with the oppression of others. And if you are doing that, frankly, I’m not terribly interested in your help or your opinion about anything.

Don’t you think it works to Trump’s interest if we are constantly doing this to each other? They are planning for us to do this and you are playing right into their hands. Divide and conquer is a very old strategy indeed. But you guys aren’t actually interested in doing anything to stop him are you? Because you live in a magical land where the consequences never affect you and where the working class will take all of the bullets for you anyway. You’ve lived there for so long that you can’t even properly plan basic safety tips for a protest during a Republican administration. We don’t need more “leaders” who put their own needs first. We don’t need more “leaders” who expect other people to act as their cannon fodder or pawns. That is not good leadership, that is childish. This is service. You are here to serve. If you are not here to serve then WE DON’T NEED YOU. You are no good to us until you get the ability to make decisions that will put other people’s needs first. Social justice is not a brand. It is not a t-shirt you put on or something you wear when it is convenient. Social justice is about liberating the actual people who aren’t free yet, and if you have the luxury to say, “I won’t be disciplined and thoughtful enough to do what is needed to free the most people that I can” or “I won’t be adult enough to put aside my own feelings for the good of others in the name of liberation” then I don’t know what form of imprisonment you’ve experienced but it was very different from the one I experienced.

When you are hungry, there is no room for error.

When they can and do torture you, there is no room for error.

When the consequence is death, there is no room for error.

When rape is a form of punishment, there is no room for error.

You sure as fuck don’t make mistakes because you are too lazy to plan if it means someone is going to kill you, what is even more monstrous is to make these mistakes on someone else’s behalf when the consequences don’t affect you. Do you know what it is like to be threatened with someone else’s pain and to offer to take the beating instead? I do.

My bottom line is this:  all this theoretical bullshit was fine when it was on your college campuses and no one was getting hurt. But if you become a reason that people might get hurt, even if it’s because you are incompetent instead of just straight evil, then you are right that we aren’t in solidarity with each other. Because I consider you part of the problem and you can either get your shit together or else you can find out just how fiercely I fight on behalf of the oppressed.

Here’s something I know about all of you, you hit like a bitch.

 

You Gon Learn Ep. 1: Wake Up Call for Leaders on the Left

Video

 

 

There are a lot of skill gaps among folks on the left that need to be addressed if we are going to deal with the problems we now face as a result of the fact that the Democratic party can’t get its shit together. Therefore, I am reluctantly coming out of retirement to start addressing those issues since no one else has stepped up to do it and everyone is running around still acting like delusional morons and pretending we didn’t just get our asses handed to us electorally. Instead of spending the last month and a half grieving this loss and coping with the fact that my holiday season involved the unlocking of memories that included my family trying to kill me, I’ve been busy trying to organize and think through the best way to do this. I kept coming back to the fact that we’ve failed to communicate to people in a language they understand. Since text, and especially academic text, is accessible to only a small portion of the population we are now adding a video series on organizing in the age of Trump. Fans of my actual writing will still see long form essays. We are also looking to expand voices that aren’t normally heard by the left. I’m especially interested in giving space to working class writers who can’t get published elsewhere. If that sounds like you, please email Mrs.Raffin at protonmail.com.

Wake up and get to work.

For more videos check out the You Gon Learn channel.

 

Calm Down, No One Thinks Class is More Important than Race 

Writing

I’ve been in the community organizing and activism game for a long time. I was an activist in junior high, which is when I got a teacher fired for being both incompetent and bigoted by circulating and organizing a petition. I’ve been doing that work ever since. In high school, myself and other community leaders ended the racial violence that permeated our poor, but diverse campus. I helped bring the first Black History Month rally to our campus. I also intervened to get access to advanced classes for my friends, among many other fun stories I’ll save for another time.

When I got to college, I wanted to study and not be involved. But unfortunately, as one of only 12 percent of the Stanford campus that was poor and one of the 3 percent that was both poor and white, I sort of realized quickly that I didn’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter. Among my many acts on campus, I was instrumental in creating the first group for poor and first generation college students at an elite institution. I also forced Stanford to adopt class as part of their Acts  of Intolerance protocol and participated in creating and advocating for training for staff members who were dealing with poor and traumatized students. One of my last acts was to speak at a rally against Arizona’s “show me your papers law” as a working class person who implored others to fight alongside my immigrant neighbors and to fight racial injustice. As a teacher, my curriculum included the teaching of every single movement in the 60s and my signature unit was on the Black Freedom Struggle where I featured the Black Panthers. I also closed the achievement gap between my nonwhite and white students and poor and rich students in my first semester of classroom teaching. So now that I’ve stated my credentials, I hope you can hear what I am about to say to you. Race is a profoundly salient and destructive construct, whose systematic oppression has brought hell on earth for far too many. I will fight it, always. I would happily die for the cause of fighting it.

But if you think that my talking about class or my talking about being poor and white is somehow taking away from that fight or demonstrates that I think class is more important, you are being an unhelpful dick and I have to question your motives.

Do you know how many universities in this country even have researchers studying class as a category of analysis? I do. And it’s very fucking few. There is very little research that has been done and this is partially why I am not in a doctoral program. I was rejected from several schools because I studied class, even though my work also involves the study of race.

Here’s how little we understand about class in this country: several of you require that I regularly provide evidence that I grew up poor. All the time. Everyday. Every fucking day for ten years, I have had to prove that poverty was a problem for me to self proclaimed socialists and Marxists.

Only one editor on the entire Stanford campus would accept my writing on class and I’m married to him. When I got to Stanford they wouldn’t even use the word “low income” because of the “stigma” involved. It took four years just to get them to do that. I hate interacting with most of the people who claim to be my ally because say things like, “those people are poor because they don’t work hard enough.” I spent four years just fighting to be able to say the truth, and most of my opposition came from people who claim to be helping the oppressed.

And I get this. There are limited resources and people of color have suffered a lot and it feels like and has historically been the case that we’ve pitted these two against each other. I understand why that concerns people. I understand why  people assumed things and silenced me. That fear is real.

But… I also think we are ALL adults who can do things differently and talk about both at the same time. And I also think that dividing us up, such that we don’t work together is exactly what the oppressors want. We can support each other at the same time. I can ride hard for people of color and also get justice for the poor. I can even do it with my white passing skin.

How do I know?

I’ve been doing it my whole life.

Why?

Because I’ve never lived anywhere where I was in the racial majority and my family is mixed and I’m also mixed. And this is true for literally every poor white person I know, including the bikers. And we don’t let people we love be oppressed without at least trying to do something about it. We see it as a communal struggle, regardless of how we personally identify.

I am not asking to take anything anyway from anyone. I am simply asking, rather nicely, for a fucking seat at the table. Need me to do something to fight racial injustice? I will happily show up anytime. So if you could stop misrepresenting my position that would be great.

I’ll never forget the last night of the monologue show I put together my senior year while three of my relatives died due to substandard healthcare. We called it Wealth of Words and it was a  series of monologues where people simply spoke about what it was like to be poor at Stanford. During the Q&A, a very prominent activist for the Asian American community asked me if we “were engaging in class warfare?”

It’s funny how they only call it class warfare when it’s the poor fighting the rich, isn’t it?

You want to tell people to check their privilege? Then check yours first. Y’all have been talking a big game about socialist uprisings, now is the time to see if you mean it. Because here’s what I know, the people that will be paying for the left’s failures to stop Trump are mine. The college kids at Yale are protected and sheltered. It’s my people who will pay the cost of this in their blood. I have played nice up until now, but if it’s the difference between hurting your feelings or having all of you hate me and preventing the deaths of my own folks, you might as well start hating me now. This is the last time I’ll be asking.

Coal Miner’s Refrain

Writing

Let’s play a fun game. I’m going to post two images and you try to guess which members of the political spectrum posted them.

Some context, I was on Facebook yesterday and both of these images appeared in my feed at roughly the same time. Both people in question are life-long educators. Both of them represent one side of the political spectrum on a very consistent basis.

Here’s image 1

bitchyclassism

Image 1: Fuck those dumb coal miners

 

Here’s Image 2

trumpersclassism

Image 2- A generally positive statement about the poor

Let’s deconstruct the images a bit before we make any guesses. That’ll make the game easier. The first one is saying that coal miners, in their insistence on having jobs, are dumb because coal is outdated and no longer relevant and these stupid idiots want to keep their jobs. Of course, none of that considers a few things

  1. We still use coal
  2. No one is a coal miner because it is fun
  3. These people d0n’t have alternative jobs or the education to get new jobs.

Now, my guess is that the person who posted this is a perfectly nice person. I’ve known them to be a good person, and my guess is that they didn’t know these statements or didn’t think about the implications of what they were saying. Also, they must never have met any coal miners. But I’m here to let you in on a secret, people with power and privilege don’t decide to be coal miners. And the people who are still living in West Virginia in coal mining areas, didn’t move there for the summers. They moved there because mining has always been one of those shit jobs we pretend no one has to do. It’s dangerous, brutal and poorly paid. The people still living in these areas don’t have access to education or anywhere to go. It’s damn hard and costs a lot of money to just move, especially when there is no guarantee of a job when you move.

I could go on and on about how hard this life is, but I’ll let you experience it through music. When you are done crying, you can move on

Coal Miner’s Refrain

Anyway, the point is that the people who post this meme clearly know very little about coal miners, about the life they are living and about their struggle.

Now let’s talk about image 2. Image two suggests that there are morals and values that come from poverty. Image 2 puts the elites to task for their immoral behavior. It assigns agency to the poor and is a subversive critique of the rich.

Wanna guess which person posted 1 and which one posted 2?

 

 

 

Did you guess it was my Trump supporter, white male, old former teacher who posted the pro-poor message? Did you guess that it was a Hispanic educator with a PhD in education and a female who posted the first image about what IDIOTS the coal miners are?

Ok, because that’s what actually happened. Yes, that’s right folks, I woke up to classism yesterday from the left and support from the right.

Still confused as to why people don’t vote for the left? I’m gonna give you some time to get there yourself.

But what I will say is that is wasn’t always like this. There’s a reason the old rust belt was blue until recently. I’m a lifelong Democrat from a family of lifelong Democrats. We used to offer solutions to these people. We used to say, “hey, we are going to help you find better jobs than coal mining” or “we are going to give education and training to find a new job.” We used to honor their struggle and their work. We used to talk about how we were going to help them and how noble that struggle was, and its the same struggle that makes it possible for us to post memes to Facebook. This country still runs on coal.

This country is still built on the backs of poor coal miners, and poor fieldworkers, and poor service workers. The poor is so fucking racially diverse and we all have histories of exploitation. WITHIN LIVING MEMORY, my family was a group of sharecroppers. My great grandmother was repeatedly raped by her boss, had her children taken from her by the state, one was sold, and two of her sisters sterilized. My great grandmother isn’t some distant relation, I knew her in my childhood. My great grandfather was a poor half-Indian sharecropper who stole passage on trains at the age of 15, lied about his age so he could join the army and serve in three foreign wars. He did it because he was starving. And I knew this man, he had a big influence on me. He was alive until my senior year of college.

This is the problem with the kind of identity politics we’ve been playing. It let’s people off the hook for what they believe. It allows us to say, “oh, hey, my background says I’m not responsible for this, because I’m so woke and I’ve experienced oppression.” So let, let you in on a secret we need to get in on now. WE ARE ALL FUCKING RESPONSIBLE FOR OPPRESSION.

Good. Are we done whining now about how it’s not our fault? Glad we could all be adults about that.

If you think you are woke because you read Angela Davis and because your people have historically been oppressed, then maybe you are. But let me tell you something, if you think its ok to mock the poor for their lot in life, then you aren’t as woke as you thought.

So now, can we stop with the self-righteous diatribes about how superior we are to the Trump supporters? We need to start doing the real work of analyzing our own bullshit and changing our tactics and attitude.

And everyday we waste not doing that, is another day that someone else is going to be oppressed.

You want to stop Trump? Give these people a viable alternative.