Help Me Not Be Such an Ass: Oct 17-Nov 22


Hoo my, it’s been a busy month, and I’ve been all in my own stuff and not reading/watching quite as much. So much of the Help I’ve sought and received has been with real people right in front of me, and sometimes it feels like “yes! and that’s all that can ever really matter!“…but as much as I love the people I get to be around, and as much as I learn from them, it still is true that we tend to reinforce each other, we are limited by our worldviews, which tend to be similar, and so still I yearn for that which will make me rage and weep and fall apart at least a little, in hope that I might reassemble just very slightly less of Such an Ass.

  1. Diolog: The brave, badass Diocese of Texas’ magazine issue called “Towards a Beloved Community: Facing Racism.” Growing up with so little exposure to religious institutions, I didn’t know that the Episcopal church was pretty rad, but now I do.
  2. Revolutionary Solidarity:  A Critical Reader for Accomplices. One thing I as a white person do is try to be a Perfect Anti-Racist, and I do this out of fear and my own bullshit (rather than, you know, commitment to collective liberation). So I am grateful when I encounter critiques of this pattern, because it gives me language to observe, reflect, and choose otherwise. This reader is a fine example, and to sell you further, here are the badass chapter titles:
    A Critique of Ally Politics//On Nonprofit-Certified “White Allies” and Privilege Theory//Outside Agitators//The Poor Person’s Defense of Riots//Accomplices Not Allies//Attacking White Supremacy in the Rebellions and Beyond//Solidarity, as Weapon and Practice
  3. A current Isssue in Assness I am dealing with at the mo is my tendency towards righteousness. Surely it arose as a reasonable strategy in response to a real childhood need, but now…I mis-apply it. I especially believe I am Minister in Charge of Disdain for Those Who Act Incongruently With Professed Values.   I also get this way when I start talking about the problem with foregrounding “intentions” when discussing interactions, because I (like many) hold that it is not enough to agree that we’ll “assume best intentions”; we need to add “…and own actual impact.”  I will be working on attending to and discussing this from next to my high horse, rather than atop it, waving my flaming sword. Anyway, here is an amazing public example of how you own impact: the author of a book which depicted people in slavery in a way that impacted people very differently from the author’s intent just fucking owned it. 
  4. The above example and thread comes from a remarkable blog: Reading While White. The topics are similar to everywhere else good, but it’s librarians’ takes on them, which is super interesting (i.e. librarians on white fragility)
  5. It’s likely you are familiar with the “resumes with perceived-Black names get half the calls that resumes with perceived-white names do” facts. Here is a talk that brings that into earlier life, into secondary education, through the lens of names including apostrophes.
  6. Guillermo del Toro’s series of tweets responding to the anti-Syrian sentiment immediately after the Paris attacks. They are so beautiful.
  7. Thanks to Romey, I now know Rabbi Lisa Goldstein of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. You know what I do not know a lot about? Jewish spirituality. She writes awesomely about it. Go learn, if you need to, too! And listen to this talk from her, on the same-thingness of the inner and the outer life, particularly the same-thingness of contemplative practice and justice work. It is worth noting that someone who heard this talk in person decided upon its basis that he’d like to marry her, and indeed, they are now married. Can your favorite podcast claim this? Please.
  8. Just in case you don’t listen to Lisa’s talk, this poem (which she reads aloud) is…just amazing.


    Commuter Buddhist by Jeffrey Harrison

    I’m learning to be a Buddhist in my car,

    listening to a book on tape. One problem
    is that, before I’ve gotten very far,

    my mind gradually becomes aware
    that it has stopped listening, straying from
    the task of becoming a Buddhist in my car.

    I’m also worried that listening will impair
    my driving, as the package label cautions,
    but I haven’t noticed that, at least so far.

    In fact, I may be driving with more care.
    There’s a sensation of attentive calm
    that’s part of becoming a Buddhist in your car.

    A soothing voice drones on until the car
    is transformed into a capsule of wisdom
    traveling at high speed, and you feel far

    from anywhere but where you really are …
    which is nowhere, really. The biggest problem
    is getting the Buddhism out of your car
    and into your life. I’ve failed at that so far.

  9. Project South, which I’ve talked about before, participates in a process for emancipatory education called University Sin Fronteras.  I get to go to the one in Atlanta, but it happens in several cities. I’ve written before about the (at least) two kinds of yearned-for Help: Help Me Not Be Such the Ass I Know I Am, and, perhaps even more importantly, the Ass I Don’t Yet Know I Am. I find being in the UNSIF space to offer both. Recently I got to learn there about the 5th Pan-African Congress, and also that there is a site called The Real News Network (out of Baltimore) which is aimed squarely at our Asses and which I am going to be leaning on for Help.
  10. Coverage of campus activism against racist structures and climates. It’s impossible to read all the brave, amazing things there are, and I can’t even filter anymore what to recommend, so here are just some good things: this (Princeton)  and this (all of them) and this (Yale) and this (all, with Mizzou as case study) and this (all) and this (Yale, but also everything, and also manages to be funny). Via Briallen Hopper, one my of top sources of shit to read that makes me rage and weep, I also learned of The Get, a new and rad podcast. Similar woke spirit to The Read; far fewer f-bombs. The two hosts both attend(ed) Yale and this episode talks about recent protests.

Ok wonderfuls, that’s it for this time. If you have suggestions for not being such an Ass, I’ll always take them.



ps: In the past month, more people than usual have said to me that they read (long and short e’s) things on here and that the things matter(ed). And when that happens I go all buzzy inside and feel so grateful to them, and I will now deliver unto you the best-worst pun I have maybe ever punned, which captures the reverence and absurdity I feel in the moments where I learn that people sometimes do click on these links: NamAsste … the Ass in me bows to the Ass in You. 

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