Tuesday, February 03, 2009

taking a break

let's see.
i write for work.
i'm writing for Screed and Bitch, PhD.
i'm trying to finish my novel draft.
i'm on twitter.

ChurchGal needs a break. (i missed blog for choice day! i never miss blog for choice!)
so i'm putting this blog on hiatus for a bit.

if you'd still want to follow me, i'm still writing for my very first love/blog, Screed, and posting occasionally at Bitch, PhD. (only very occasionally because, well, because - and i'm busy as hell with my real job.)
you can also follow me on Twitter as PrincessDing.

i hope i'll be back by spring - or when this monstrous legislative session is over.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

wabi sabi: reclaiming the term "born again"

via a link on Twitter (thanks, shawna!) a cool (read: provocative) piece on reclaiming the term 'born again'.

"because we now tend to interpret "kingdom of G-d" to mean "heaven"
we have interpreted this passage to mean
"becoming born again is how you get to heaven".
because we put accepting the atonement of Jesus
at the absolute core of "becoming a Christian"
and we equate "becoming a Christian" with "going to heaven"
we have created a scenario whereby we assume
if A implies B and B implies C then A must imply C.
becoming born again must be synonymous with becoming a Christian
because both are described as the gateway to entrance to heaven.
thus "being born again" must be a catch phrase to mean
that we have accepted the atonement of Jesus.

i believe this is flawed logic..."

Monday, January 26, 2009


it's funny how, when you think you finally have life by the tail, things happen to muck it up.

i'm sure this is the feeling Gov. Blagojevich has as he begins his round of PR/reputation recuperation interviews with major outlets this week (look for him on the Today Show, Good Morning America, and Larry King.) i know i said that i wouldn't malign those with genuine mental illnesses by calling him crazy but his behavior befuddles me.

when he's impeached (and there's no doubt that he will be impeached by the end of this week and Pat Quinn will be our new governor by the beginning of February) will he refuse to leave his office? will he force security to eject him from his cushy digs in Springfield? will we be entertained/mortified by a videotape of our impeached governor yelling and screaming while being forcibly ejected from the building? or will he accept his fate and entertain/mortify us with a final press conference which includes a dramatic reading of Whitman's elegy to Lincoln? (O, Captain, my Captain!)
spent Friday with LTF. i brought back a souvenir from the Inauguration for him (he's a huge Obama supporter) and as i was taking a cab up to his place i couldn't help but think how this was something Don Draper, from "Mad Men," would do: come back from a trip and bring his long-neglected mistress a little something to make things better.

i might as well accept it; this thing with LTF befuddles me, too.
on the work front, my mentor has taken a leadership position with another very large non profit here in the city. on one hand, i'm glad for her. on the other, i'm WTF!!

what does one do when one's mentor moves on? i recognize that i enjoyed a special kind of professional privilege because of her willingness to trust me and back me up. her departure leaves me vulnerable. when the new CEO comes, her strategic agenda could be very different and the structure of the agency could shift - and not necessarily to my advantage. needless to say, the impending need to navigate tricky office politics leaves me feeling...befuddled.

hmmm...read the tea leaves with me.

this week, the interim will be chosen, it'll take at least 6 months for a new search for a competent CEO to conclude, so i'm estimating that it'll be absolutely crucial for me to have my next leap planned and in place by june - which is also the end of the fiscal year and whatever agency-saving cuts need to happen will probably take place around there, anyway.

(and since i'm all overhead, no matter my success with earmarks and appropriations this year or how generally kick ass i am, i'm on thin ice.)

looks like my New Year's resolution to Be Prepared will come in handy.

Friday, January 23, 2009

i'm back from the inauguration

a relief.
awe inspiring.
once in a lifetime.
hilarious. (road trips with friends are always the best.)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

cops!: some helpful tips

i don't think i'm the only one who gets a little bit more skeeved out when the cops are around. it could be the loaded gun, the knowledge that they could flip out/have a flashback at any moment, my natural suspicion of state authority, or just my natural aversion to cold eyed dudes in uniform.

but it's helpful to keep one's cool when in the presence of the law. one can't always rely on one's sweet looks or big vocabulary. folks will say that this just makes civilian/cop interaction needlessly adversarial. i say it's forcing them to do their jobs correctly.

they take shortcuts because we (the general public) allow them to take shortcuts.

via the ella baker center for human rights some advice (which i am going to snatch whole):

If the Police Stop You...
Stay in control of your emotions and words. Don’t physically resist.
Keep your hands visible.
Remain silent. They have guns, pepper spray and billy clubs. Your strongest weapon is your mind.
The less you say, the better. Silence is not a crime.
Ask, "Am I free to go?" If they keep you, you are being detained.
Ask, "Why are you detaining me?" To detain you, the police must have concrete reasons to suspect your involvement in a specific crime.
If you’re detained, show ID. If you don’t, they can hold you for three days to ID you.

or Try to Search You...
Never consent to a search.
Say loud and clear (especially if there are any witnesses present): "I do not consent to a search."
Don’t resist physically.
Don’t open your bag for them. It will count as consent to the search.
Police may 'pat down' your clothing if they suspect weapons or drugs.

or Try to Enter Your Home...
Never consent to a search.
Step outside. Lock the door behind you.
Ask to see a warrant. Make sure it has the right information (e.g., address) and a judge’s signature.
They can do only what the warrant allows them to. Warrants often limit the search to one room, one day, etc. Make sure they are complying with the warrant.

or Stop You in Your Car...
Stay calm. Again, you do not have to answer any questions.
When they ask you, show them your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.
Tell the officer, "I do not consent to a search."
Don’t open your trunk or car door. It will count as consent to a search of you and your property.
If they give you a ticket, sign it. Otherwise you can be arrested. Fight the ticket in court later.
If the police suspect you of drunk driving and you refuse to take a blood, urine or breath test, your license can be suspended.

If the Police Arrest You...
Do not answer any questions until a lawyer arrives to represent you.
Say only, "I choose to remain silent and I want to talk to my attorney."
The police may handcuff, search, photograph and fingerprint you.
Do not talk about your case to anyone except your attorney.

If You See or Experience Police Brutality
Remain calm.
Write down the details of the incident, badge numbers, and names of witnesses immediately.
Get a medical report immediately, as well as photographs documenting any injuries or property damaged.

Always Be a Witness
Always be a witness for a friend, relative or stranger.
Stop and watch.
Record the officer’s name, badge number, and car number. Write down the time, the place, who said what, and who did what.
If the officer tells you to leave, say, "I have the right to observe from a safe distance."
Assure them, "I’m not trying to interfere."

Don’t talk to the police.
If arrested, say, "I choose to remain silent and I want to talk to my attorney."
Never consent to a search of your person, vehicle, home or property. If the police search you, state loudly, “I do not consent to a search.”
Document and report police misconduct.

are these tips going to stop a bullet? no.
but rights are rights and we have to start exercising them some time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

who's oscar grant? we are.

for that matter, we are Dymond Milburn and Michael Cho.

sometimes a person gets tired of saying all the things that need to be said.
it's horrific.
it's sad.
it's enraging.
it's awful.
something should be done about it.

yes, something should.

what I wrote to a Facebook friend who was trying to make sense of this shooting in the context of Obama's presidency and the upcoming inaugural celebrations:

Race is part of [this shooting] but the larger picture is the relationship of the State (as represented by the pseudo-militarized arm of the law) to the Individual. Although people of color are most likely to experience violence by armed authorities, there's a particular mindset, or value system, from the State that authorizes control over the individual, in the interest of the state, that affects all of us, regardless of color. In other words, the violence of this episode is just a small part of the other types of violence enacted against populations the State deems undesirable - based on class, race,sexuality, gender, nationality or religion. The State is about asserting authority by maintaining its power; Power is about control over individuals to cow the populace into submission. And that shooting is about Power run amok.

you're not short-sighted and these two things don't have to be diametrically opposed at all. which comes first the chicken (State) or the egg (Racism)? in my view, they each are signs of the other, both supporting the ends of the other. racism (and all the other associated -isms that go along with it: colonialism, imperialism,nationalism, jingoism) has been used like a handy tool by the State/Nation-State to justify genocide, mass murder, mass displacement, land theft, asset theft, slavery, etc. but on the micro-level, individual racists have hidden behind the symbols of the state to commit acts of personal hatred, in the name of the state. so i'd say it's a matter of both/and, not either/or.

in a conversation with my father before i flew back to chicago after christmas we were talking about a family friend's son, his close call with the sherriff's department in Porter Ranch, and what's at play when police are caught abusing their power.

two older men, clearly ex-law enforcement, sat next to us while we ate breakfast. (in LA, you can always tell who's been a cop. white or of color, they all have that no bullshit, soldier face, and give off a sense that they can jump off at any moment. they were not pleased at my conversation.)

my father is an ex-LAPD chaplain and very much on the side of law & order, but lately there have been too many incidents of young black men he knows barely escaping bullshit arrest and beat downs at the hands of police - escaping because of my father's intervention. he was of the mind that race is the primary motivator.

i shook my head. 'it is and it isn't. it's really about the State controlling the individual. race is a convenient narrative for the victim, the media, even the police department to sell but if we're at all honest about how power works and in whose interest, we're all under the boot. white folks think they're safe because they're not black or brown or they live in good neighborhoods and the cops don't shoot them in the street like dogs. bullshit.

you think the police couldn't - wouldn't - lock down LA now the way they did in '92 during the riots? whose interests are protected by all these acts of police brutality? they're hate crimes, created to cow the populace into submission - and it works! we allow them to videotape us, enter our homes without cause, search our cars, surveil our neighborhoods - and we say ok to all of it because they carry a gun and a baton. sure, it's race, but it's about class, sexuality, politics and mostly about suppressing resistance, suppressing criticism. and we let them do it.'

my dad had a funny look on his face. 'girl, where do your ideas come from?'
i rolled my eyes. 'you!'

next to us, the two ex-cops paid their bill, looked hard at me and left.

read more:
the video of Grant's death
Feministe on his execution
BART security are not merely security guards.
M. Dot at Racialicious on how Gran'ts killing haunts them
the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and their PoliceWatch initiative, on what can be done about police brutality
Jack&Jill on an incident of being profiled
Ryan Takemiya on Asian solidarity with the black community in the wake of the Grant murder
RaceWire has a few 'take action' recommendations.
Did you know Mukasey moved to strip immigrants of their rights to due process and access to counsel? (this crap is all connected, people)
Womanist Musings on teaching her sons to distrust the police
Richard, at fem.men.ist, connects various dots (including the Greek riots in response to a police shooting) and puts this event in the larger context of international police action against civilians (including what's happening in Gaza.)

what a way to open the year.

Thursday, January 08, 2009