Revisiting Charlottesville

“…and then some of them took a knee and got out their gas masks, and at this point I was telling some of the policemen, ‘This is not necessary! What are you doing?’”

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 8.00.07 PM
photograph courtesy of Ézé Amos

In our most recent interview with photographer Ézé Amos, we mentioned that Ézé would be out again on August 12th, the day of another planned right-wing, white-supremacist march. That march, and its aftermath, are currently taking place.

We’re reposting our interview with Ézé to do what we can to highlight the strong grassroots community response to this horrific Nazi march. (And yes, we’ll stick with the term ‘Nazi’ so long as participants are carrying swastikas.)

Stay safe out there, all. Thank you for your courage.

###

Here at Small Stones, we define education, and educators, broadly. So often, classrooms appear in the most unexpected places.

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 8.00.07 PM
Resist! Protesting the Ku Klux Klan. Photo by Eze Amos.

As we continue our own work of interviewing some of these educators, we wanted to share with you work from a friend of the blog. Photographer and photojournalist Eze Amos, a Charlottesville, Virginia local, has found himself in the middle of some of the larger protests and counter protests that have taken place since the 2016 election. We are featuring some of his images in this post; there are far more on his Instagram feed.

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 8.04.57 PM.png
Resist! Protesting the Ku Klux Klan. Photo by Eze Amos.

The issue at hand? A statue of Robert E. Lee, erected in 1924, that the city voted to remove earlier this year. The removal, however, is being held up by legal challenges. In May, white supremacist groups marched on the city carrying torches. This past Saturday, July 8, the KKK arrived.

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 8.17.26 PM.png
Resist! Protesting the Ku Klux Klan. Photo by Eze Amos.

We were fortunate to be able to talk with Eze about his experience at the counter-demonstration, and here’s what he had to say:

What I saw, after the KKK guys had left the city, is they drove off with police escort right in front of them, and there was a [police] car behind the convoy of KKK guys. I’ve been telling friends about this actually, they were definitely given—the only thing short of red carpet treatment was actual red carpets. What they give them that day, it was amazing. Anyhow, the police escorted the KKK out of the city. And of course, people were still agitated—KKK came to town—so there were still people out in the streets. Nobody was being violent.

The police, the state police that were all in riot gear, turned around as though they were leaving. [Then] they went back up to the park and then suddenly they turned around, and then some of them took a knee and got out their gas masks. And at this point I was telling some of the policemen, “This is not necessary! What are you doing?” But they just kept doing what they were doing, putting on their masks, so I immediately stepped a little bit away from them.

Moments later, I heard the first gas canister go off, which was without warning. They didn’t warn anybody. So of course some of the people saw that this was happening, that the police put on gas masks, so they wrapped cloaks around their faces, to prevent whatever gas they were going to deploy. Now they’re charging those people for covering their faces in a public place, which I think is ridiculous. So that was what I saw. The police deployed the gas after KKK had left. KKK had left, and twenty minutes after they had left, this whole gas thing happened, and they deployed three gas canisters.

And the craziest part of it was after they did this, the crowd, you know, people were still on the streets, and the police just turned around, got in their vans, and drove off. The state police. So they weren’t really deploying the gas to displace the people or get the people out of the street, they were just doing it for exercise, I think, because it doesn’t make sense that you’d deploy gas and then you’d turn around and just leave the people on the street and just drive off.

So basically, that is what happened. That’s what I saw. I got some photos to back that up. You can see [from] most of the photos, I didn’t get right to where the gas was deployed initially, because of course I was running away from getting the gas in my system, and I got some, I got pepper in my face and stuff, but, yeah. That is what I saw. That’s what happened.

Police ultimately used tear gas, and 23 counter-protestors were arrested. Local activists are currently preparing to oppose a planned Alt-Right March on Charlottesville. If you’re interested in helping out, you can contribute to Solidarity Cville Anti-Racist Legal Fund here. You can also use an ACLU-spearheaded form to register your thoughts with the Charlottesville City Council.

Unless the city revokes the permit for the August 12th march, we may, unfortunately, be featuring more images from the ensuing pushback.

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 8.32.13 PM.png
Resist! Protesting the Ku Klux Klan. Photo by Eze Amos.

 

Do You Have A Story To Share?

We are excellent listeners.

IMG_1298

Welcome, new readers!

Small Stones is a project founded in the wake of the 2016 election. We focus on curation, education, and narration, and right now, we’re waist-deep in our Small Stones Interviews project. That’s probably how you found us.

Do you have a story of your own? We would love to hear it. We’re currently working on our Small Stones Interviews guiding principles. Here they are in their current form:

  • History is personal as well as factual. Facts and statistics are part of history, but so, too, is personal experience—otherwise known as ‘your story’ or ‘oral history.’ We think it’s important to think critically and compassionately about peoples’ stories. They are, after all, the fundamental stuff of history. We are living in a time of political and social upheaval that future historians will study. We aim to influence both how we see ourselves now and how posterity will see us. Because if we see ourselves differently, we may take different, braver action.
  • Stories can be transformational. Oral history is inherently humanizing because it recreates one-on-one conversation, rather than presenting a list of facts or abstract ideas. People learn about themselves and the human condition by sharing, reading, and hearing stories. When our children ask us what we did in 2017, we hope to tell them that we worked towards a better world by helping people listen to each other.
  • Conducting oral history is an opportunity to honor a person. We aim to be respectful, trustworthy, and accurate listeners to, and communicators of, our narrators’ stories.
  • The Small Stones storytelling process. When we interview you, you are giving permission for us to record, transcribe, and consider the interview for publication at org. However, you remain in control. You can call the process off at any time, you can edit the interview, and we’re happy to keep your identity confidential (i.e. publish it anonymously) if that makes more sense for you.

We welcome your thoughts and comments! And, if you’re interested in telling your story with us, please email us to discuss: smallstonesedu@gmail.com. Or reach out on Twitter. We’re at @smallstonesedu.

Small Stones Interviews: Eze Amos, Photographer

“…and then some of them took a knee and got out their gas masks, and at this point I was telling some of the policemen, ‘This is not necessary! What are you doing?'”

Here at Small Stones, we define education, and educators, broadly. So often, classrooms appear in the most unexpected places.

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 8.00.07 PM
Resist! Protesting the Ku Klux Klan. Photo by Eze Amos.

As we continue our own work of interviewing some of these educators, we wanted to share with you work from a friend of the blog. Photographer and photojournalist Eze Amos, a Charlottesville, Virginia local, has found himself in the middle of some of the larger protests and counter protests that have taken place since the 2016 election. We are featuring some of his images in this post; there are far more on his Instagram feed.

Screen Shot 2017-07-13 at 8.04.57 PM.png
Resist! Protesting the Ku Klux Klan. Photo by Eze Amos.

The issue at hand? A statue of Robert E. Lee, erected in 1924, that the city voted to remove earlier this year. The removal, however, is being held up by legal challenges. In May, white supremacist groups marched on the city carrying torches. This past Saturday, July 8, the KKK arrived. Continue reading “Small Stones Interviews: Eze Amos, Photographer”

Small Stones Interviews: Eva Kaye-Zwiebel

“Institutions are just habits. They’re nothing. When they’re broken, they’re broken.”

Eva Kaye-Zwiebel is a co-founder of Small Stones. In June she attended a Voice of Witness oral history workshop, where she talked about the 2016 presidential election against the background of her grandmother’s life. She told this story in an interview, which we’ve edited to create a first person narrative.

img-20161108-wa0000-e1500056801450.jpg
Eva on Nov. 8, 2016 after casting her vote.

My brother was at my house on Election Day, November 8, 2016, when a giant box arrived from my Cousin Nancy. I looked at it and thought, “What the heck is this?” As we were opening it, I remembered Nancy had told me she had the steamer trunk Manna used to move from Germany to the United States. I’d said Nancy could send it to me. Manna was my grandmother. Her name was Marianne, German for Mary Ann. When she was little she called herself ‘Manna’ because she couldn’t pronounce her own name, and that became the family variation on grandma.

Before the election my brother and I talked a little. My reputation is as the professional worrier in the family and I didn’t want to dump too much of that on him. He knew I was worried and that I had gone to Nevada to knock on doors because I didn’t have a good feeling about the election. I wanted to be able to say I’d done what I reasonably could.

The box was absolutely empty. It’s an empty wooden crate. I guess I expected a more finished trunk. The wood is raw, like, ‘be careful when you touch it, you might get a splinter.’ It has metal hinges and a place to put a lock on it. It’s maybe three feet by eighteen inches by twenty inches. It’s sturdy. It has Hamburg Line stickers on it and the address she was going to in Harrison, New York.

Trunk
Manna’s trunk on Nov. 8, 2016.

I laughed when we opened the box because it was too ‘neat’ for it to arrive the day of the election. Manna left Germany in 1935, and this is the trunk. If it happened in a story, you’d get mad and throw the book because it’s too neat.

Manna was a force of nature, and she was grumpy. I think she was like that before her country fell apart and the whole family left. But she left early; she was one of those people. She was in medical school in Switzerland and, if I remember my history right, the Nuremburg laws or some of Hitler’s legislation went into effect in Switzerland before it did in Germany. She had to leave school because she was Jewish. As a result, she looked around and said, “This is not the place for me. This is not going to go well.” And she up and left before the family. She ended up getting her US citizenship the week before Pearl Harbor. Of course then Germans couldn’t get it and my grandfather was an enemy alien in Los Angeles during World War II.

Continue reading “Small Stones Interviews: Eva Kaye-Zwiebel”

Small Stones Interviews Roundup

In which a teacher, a preacher, and a lawyer walk into a blog…

In case you missed them, here’s a quick round up of our Small Stones Interviews so far. We are hard at work on bringing you the next round of stories from educators doing the work during these times. If you or someone you know would like to talk to us about your own experience, we are ready to listen!

Small Stones Interviews: LaQuisha Beckum:

As a teacher, I still bring into the learning space the same optimistic approach I always have, because I don’t feel less optimistic. I still talk with students about their responsibility to themselves to be their true self in the face of the messaging that’s horrific right now. No one can take care of their well-being better than they. So, I don’t feel an urgency or that it’s more difficult at all. Whether I’m working with the teens, or with the college students, I’m always trying to ensure they are kind to themselves in the process.

Small Stones Interviews: The Rev. Kat Banakis:

The religious left has been around as long as the religious right, but there’s a lot more thought now around how we are meaningful participants in what I think is really a nationwide civics education. How does a bill become a law, what does the FBI director do, how much can be decided through E.O. [executive order] vs. the courts vs. anything else, and as we’re educating ourselves on that, what, then, is the appropriate witness of people of faith? Because part of what happens in the US is that when you get the separation of church and state, you choose what that means. For me, it means that it is the job of the church to critique the state. That we have the necessary moral obligation to speak on behalf of the widow, and the orphan, and the refugee, and those who do not necessarily have power in any given administration, and to look for where that shadow side of things is. And that, I think, is the civic obligation of religious institutions.

Small Stones Interviews: An Anonymous Civil Rights Lawyer:

It does feel really weird to feel like we might be seeing the end of the political system as we knew it. I mean, yes and no?
 I don’t think it’s hopeless. I think there is some chunk of people who will, well, die because of this administration, and a bunch more whose lives will be made much, much more difficult, but I think there are things we can do.
 First, I think we can fight—and people are fighting—to protect as many people as we can right now. So, to me, that means lobbying, making calls, bringing civil rights lawsuits, and to some extent that’s working.

 

 

 

Small Stones Interviews: A Civil Rights Lawyer

“I’m definitely one of the people who didn’t realize how fragile everything really was…”

c1c819be0f2948b99b76fbef09035842-780x470
Image via The Seattle Times

Our third Small Stones interviewee has requested anonymity. She is a civil rights lawyer actively working on what we non-legal minds like to call The Legal Resistance (hey, it sounds cool). We hope this interview will be just her first foray into educating laypeople about what’s going on in government and the implications it may have for our lives.

As you might expect, she’s experienced some pushback, and therefore we’ll be keeping her identity under wraps. Though we can’t tell you who she is, we’re happy to be able to publish our conversation in full below. Read on to find out what keeps her heading into work each morning, despite some very real misgivings about where the system is headed.

Small Stones (SS): How would you define what you do? I’ve been poking around your firm’s site, and it seems like you deal with a lot of good things!

A Lawyer (AL): I say I’m a civil rights lawyer, but I also do workers’ rights and consumer protection. I do a lot of “this looks important and interesting and like I could be useful. I’ll do that for a while.”

SS: That’s actually an excellent segue to my most pressing question. How are things different for you all, day to day, under this administration?

AL: A few ways, I think.
 First, when everyone thought Hillary would be elected, we had all of these plans about how we would push forward and make the world better, and we still have those, and some of them are still viable. But a lot more of what we do now is trying to protect the status quo.

With Scalia’s death and the new appointment, we were gearing up to try to get a bunch of things before the Supreme Court
, and now we’re on the defensive. And that’s true with everything.

SS: As a layperson, it’s been a bit disheartening to see how many governmental norms are really dependent on everyone agreeing that they are norms.

AL: Yeah, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’m definitely one of the people who didn’t realize how fragile everything really was—and just how quickly it could change when everyone decides to just stop agreeing.

Continue reading “Small Stones Interviews: A Civil Rights Lawyer”

Small Stones Interviews: The Rev. Kat Banakis

Kat Banakis is the Theologian-in-Residence at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Evanston, Illinois.

banakis-214x300

The Rev. Kat Banakis is the Theologian-in-Residence at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Evanston, Illinois. Her writing, preaching, and teaching explore how to be people of faith in this time and place. She is host and producer of The Holy Holy Podcast, an interfaith program on life’s large questions bringing together secular leaders with Jewish, Muslim, and Christian voices. She is the author of Bubble Girl: An Irreverent Journey of Faith (Chalice, 2013), which puts Christian systematic theology into an accessible, narrative form for personal and group reflection on how our stories are wrapped up in God’s story. Outside of St. Luke’s, Kat works in fundraising consulting for large non-profit organizations. She and her husband live in Chicago. Full disclosure: Kat and the Small Stones editors were college classmates.

Small Stones: We are picking people to talk to who are engaged in education at all sorts of different levels and worlds, and part of why you came up is because of the podcast work you were doing in the second half of last year, and because so much of what that podcast is, at least from my perspective, is very educational. And not in a way that’s didactic or anything like that, but it seems like it was educational for the participants, and it was educational for the people listening. It was a really great interfaith, intergeneration dialogue… and that feels very last-administration.

I’m curious, given that you recently had that role, how do you look at what we have happening now, in the civic world, that’s really invoking a lot of notes of conservative religious positions, too?

Kat Banakis: So Karl Barth is a mid-20th century theologian, and he talked about how when you preach, you always do so with the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. And when I was putting together the first season of the podcast, I was really looking at, and to use a religious term, exegeting, my congregation, seeing that so many of the young families coming in had grown up in multi religious or non-religious households, and really for me to be a good pastor to my congregation, I needed to expand my aperture and purview of interfaith work. This was to be able to gain fluency, to be able to pastor to them, and also because I think that it is important in the public square to have interreligious dialogue.

But you also make a really good point that it was, to a certain extent, a situation of the time, in that there was this burgeoning—there’s always been interfaith work in the US, but particularly since 9/11, thinking about intra-Abrahamic initiatives has been very live. And so it was intentionally the sort of topics that bring people back to religion, broad topics, and then doing interfaith education around life issues, which as you point out, felt appropriate to the time, and creating a space for interfaith education around life topics.

Fast forward to the present, and—

Continue reading “Small Stones Interviews: The Rev. Kat Banakis”