Local NPR is abuzz with people discussing this weekend’s planned bigot rallies in San Francisco (Saturday) and Berkeley (Sunday), and with counter-protesters’ plans.
In the spirit of thinking about using our agency in the ways that feel possible, here’s a brief essay by Erica Harris DeValve, who graduated college a couple months ago. Her husband, Seth, plays football for the Cleveland Browns. He made headlines this week for kneeling in a prayer circle with his African-American teammates during the national anthem. (Seth DeValve is white).
In another part of my life, I help run a newsletter of social justice events. There’s a joint Jewish-Muslim event coming, and yesterday I received an email that read, in part, “The Palo Alto Police Department recommends not putting it on social media, so we are refraining from that.” My first thought was, “Let’s advertise it! Bring on the white supremacists! Let them show their faces.” I’m not going to do that, but a substantial part of me wants to.
Here are some things we’ve been reading amidst the onslaught of daily news. As always, our goal is providing resources that may be useful to teachers and/or students, whether in the classroom or in the larger world.
Common Sense Media has updated a previously-published article, “Explaining the News to Our Kids,” in light of the events in Charlottesville. The article includes tips and strategies for discussing difficult news with children by age-range, which we found particularly helpful.
We found the words of the post comforting. As the author notes,
The song is an anthem, a meditation on the ultimate lesson of the freedom fight passed down generationally by Ms. Ella herself that is meant to be spoken boldly out loud or under one’s breath as the situation demands to empower both purpose and resolve.
“…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?’”
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.
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.
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.
This weekend we read Carol Anderson’s editorial, The Policies of White Resentment, in the New York Times Sunday Review. For us, it provided a framework for understanding the series of incendiary social policies coming from the Administration in D.C., from the ‘Muslim Ban’ in January to the President’s recent call to law enforcement officers to rough up arrestees.
Professor Anderson holds an endowed professorship at Emory University, and earlier this year she won a National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism for her book, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide. We found her article’s synthesis of current events helpful. (Our readers who are more knowledgeable about the politics of race may find it old hat. Please let us know if this is the case! And feel free to point us to other reading we ought to be doing.)
We’ve excerpted the article here, with a link to keep reading if you’re interested.
The Policies of White Resentment, by Carol Anderson
“White resentment put Donald Trump in the White House. And there is every indication that it will keep him there, especially as he continues to transform that seething, irrational fear about an increasingly diverse America into policies that feed his supporters’ worst racial anxieties.
“If there is one consistent thread through Mr. Trump’s political career, it is his overt connection to white resentment and white nationalism. Mr. Trump’s fixation on Barack Obama’s birth certificate gave him the white nationalist street cred that no other Republican candidate could match, and that credibility has sustained him in office — no amount of scandal or evidence of incompetence will undermine his followers’ belief that he, and he alone, could Make America White Again.
“The guiding principle in Mr. Trump’s government is to turn the politics of white resentment into the policies of white rage — that calculated mechanism of executive orders, laws and agency directives that undermines and punishes minority achievement and aspiration. No wonder that, even while his White House sinks deeper into chaos, scandal and legislative mismanagement, Mr. Trump’s approval rating among whites (and only whites) has remained unnaturally high. Washington may obsess over Obamacare repeal, Russian sanctions and the debt ceiling, but Mr. Trump’s base sees something different — and, to them, inspiring.
“Like on Christmas morning, every day brings his supporters presents: travel bans against Muslims, Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Hispanic communities and brutal, family-gutting deportations, a crackdown on sanctuary cities, an Election Integrity Commission stacked with notorious vote suppressors, announcements of a ban on transgender personnel in the military, approval of police brutality against “thugs,” a denial of citizenship to immigrants who serve in the armed forces and a renewed war on drugs that, if it is anything like the last one, will single out African-Americans and Latinos although they are not the primary drug users in this country. Last week, Mr. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions put the latest package under the tree: a staffing call for a case on reverse discrimination in college admissions, likely the first step in a federal assault on affirmative action and a determination to hunt for colleges and universities that discriminate against white applicants.
I’m just a poor wayfaring stranger
Traveling through this world of woe
But there’s no sickness, toil nor danger
In that fair land to which I go
I’m going there to see my father
I’m going there no more to roam
I am just going over Jordan
I am just going over home
I know dark clouds will gather round me
I know my way is rough and steep
But beau-teous fields lie just before me
Where God’s redeemed their vigils keep
I’m going home to see my mother
She said she’d meet me when I come
I’m only going over Jordan
I’m only going over home
I’m just a going over home
For our first post since vacation, we’re sharing some advice from Katherine Boo, who’s perhaps best known for writing the 2012 National Book Award winner Behind the Beautiful Forevers. We found her list of principles for responsible nonfiction storytelling thought provoking. The original story is here, published by Nieman Storyboard on July 25, 2017 and written by Katia Savchuk. We’ve condensed Boo’s rules below.
Katherine Boo’s 15 rules for narrative nonfiction
It’s not enough to tell the stories of victims. I also need to investigate perps.
I let what I hate give me wing. —It doesn’t matter what pisses you off, she says, as long as you pay attention to that feeling. “Writing against” is a good compass “until you know what you’re writing for,” she said.
I’m not the sum of my best or most difficult circumstances, and neither are the people I report on.
When I’m first settling into a place, I tell myself that strong presumptions will make me miss what’s happening.
Memory sucks. —Boo says she reports out everything she can. She’s found that people sometimes deny their own experiences during the fact-checking process, until she plays back video showing them their own words. After a day of reporting, she also immediately writes an email to her husband capturing the emotion of that time.
I ask myself: “What would really get lost if this story never ran?” —Boo engages in an inner dialogue that keeps her going until she finds a bigger meaning for the story.
Don’t be a whiner. —Nonfiction writers shouldn’t get wrapped up in how much sacrifice the work entails. “My presence isn’t doing them a favor,” she said of her subjects. “They’re doing me a favor.”
I don’t try to find simple characters. —“If you’re searching for a super-virtuous character, you’re denying … the infinite variety of the human condition,” Boo said.
I try never to forget that my “subjects” are really my co-investigators.
Though I seek out the public record maniacally, I don’t assume that it’s accurate. —Government documents and other public records often reflect the interests and perspectives of those in power, Boo noted. So she makes sure to supplement these sources with “hang-out journalism.”
To calibrate my compass as a writer, I share my work widely and not only with journalists. —Her 12-year-old nephew told her he couldn’t smell the slums when he read a draft of her book. Others reported when they started to get bored.
Editors and publishers don’t know what’s going to sell.
Even if I’m telling urgent stories, I can still experiment with form and make it a creative process. —“If your subject, like mine, is one people don’t necessarily want to read about, you have to do that,” Boo said. She encourages journalists to “read above your station.” Her own work has been inspired by the novelists Roberto Bolaño and George Eliot, among others.
When after a lot of effort I can’t pin something down, I force myself to put that uncertainty on the page. —Boo says she fact-checks “like a madwoman.” When she can’t find confirmation for something, she makes that explicit. “Getting it right matters way more than whether you can make people care,” she said.
If my work is successful, I don’t go and get high on my own supply. —“You know better than anyone where the essential courage of the enterprise resides—with the people who risk retaliation, share their stories and help journalists build piece by piece a crucial alternative public record of our time,” Boo said.
We’ll be thinking on these in the days to come. We invite you to read the original article here.
Happy Friday, everyone. Time for our end-of-week wind-down. We learned about the Shine A Light album this week: guitar and vocals from Billy Bragg and Joe Henry as they rode the train from Chicago to L.A. Here they are singing The L & N Don’t Stop Here Anymore. Be kind to yourself this weekend.