Source: Enlace Zapatista
January 1, 2016
GOOD EVENING, GOOD DAY COMPAÑERO AND COMPAÑERA BASES OF SUPPORT FROM THE ZAPATISTA ARMY FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION, COMPAÑERO/AS MILICIANOS AND MILICIANAS,[i] INSURGENTS, LOCAL AND REGIONALRESPONSABLES,[ii] AUTHORITIES FROM THE THREE LEVELS OF AUTONOMOUS GOVERNMENT, COMPAÑERO/ASPROMOTORES AND PROMOTORAS[iii] OF THE DIFFERENT WORK AREAS, COMPAÑEROS AND COMPAÑERAS OF THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL SIXTH, AND ALL WHO ARE PRESENT.
Compañeras and compañeros, today we are here to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the beginning of the war against oblivion.
For more than 500 years we have endured the war that the powerful from different nations, languages, colors, and beliefs have made against us in order to annihilate us.
They wanted to kill us, be it through killing our bodies or killing our ideas.
But we resist.
As original peoples, as guardians of mother earth, we resist.
Not only here and not only our color, which is the color of the earth.
In all of the corners of the earth that suffered in the past and still suffer now, there were and there are dignified and rebellious people who resisted, who resist against the death imposed from above.
January 1, 1994, 22 years ago, we made public the “ENOUGH!” that we had prepared in dignified silence for a decade.
In silencing our pain we were preparing its scream.
Our word, at that time, came from fire.
In order to wake those who slept.
To raise the fallen.
To incense those who conformed and surrendered.
To rebel against history
To force it to tell that which it had silenced.
To reveal the history of exploitations, murders, dispossessions, disrespect and forgetting that it was hiding behind the history of above.
This history of museums, statues, textbooks – monuments to the lie.
With the death of our people, with our blood, we shook the stupor of a world resigned to defeat.
It was not only words. The blood of our fallen compañeros in these 22 years was added to the blood of those from the preceding years, lustrums, decades, and centuries.
We had to choose then and we chose life.
That is why, both then and now, in order to live, we die.
Our word then was as simple as our blood painting the streets and walls of the cities where they disrespect us now as they did then.
And it continues to be:
The banner of our struggle was our 11 demands: land, work, food, health, education, dignified housing, independence, democracy, freedom, justice, and peace.
These demands were what made us rise up in arms because these were the things that we, the original people and the majority of people in this country and in the entire world, need.
In this way, we began our struggle against exploitation, marginalization, humiliation, disrespect, oblivion and all of the injustices we lived that were caused by the bad system.
Because we are only of service to the rich and powerful as their slaves, so that they can become richer and richer and we can become poorer and poorer.
After living for such a long time under this domination and plunder we said:
ENOUGH! THIS IS WHERE OUR PATIENCE ENDS!
And we saw that we had no other choice then to take up our arms to kill or to die for a just cause.
But we were not alone.
Nor are we alone now.
In Mexico and the World dignity took to the streets and asked for a space for the word.
From that moment on, we changed our form of struggle. We were and we are an attentive ear and open word, because from the beginning we knew that a just struggle of the people is for life and not for death.
But we have our arms at our sides, we have not gotten rid of them, they will be with us until the end.
Because we see that where our ear was an open heart, the Ruler used his deceptive word, and ambitious and lying heart against us.
We saw that the war from above continued.
Their plan and objective was and is to make war against us until they exterminate us. That is why instead of meeting our just demands, they prepared and prepare, made and make war with their modern weapons, form and finance paramilitaries, provide and distribute crumbs taking advantage of some people’s ignorance and poverty.
These rulers above are stupid. They think that those who were willing to listen would also be willing to sell out, surrender, and give up.
They were wrong then.
They are wrong now.
Because we Zapatistas know full well that we are not beggars or good-for-nothings who hope that everything will simply resolve itself.
We are people with dignity, determination, and consciousness to fight for true freedom and justice for all.[iv] Regardless of one’s color, race, gender, belief, calendar or geography.
That is why our struggle is not local, regional, or even national. It is universal.
Because the injustices, crimes, dispossessions, disrespect, and exploitations are universal.
But so are rebellion, rage, dignity, and the desire to be better.
That is why we understood that it was necessary to build our life ourselves, with autonomy.
In the midst of the major threats, military and paramilitary harassment, and the bad government’s constant provocations, we began to form our own system of governing—our autonomy—with our own education system, our own health care, our own communication, our way of caring for and working on mother earth; our own politics as a people and our own ideology about how we want to live as communities, with an other culture.
Where others hope that those above will solve the problems of those below, we Zapatistas began to build our freedom as it is sown, how it is constructed, where it grows, that is to say, from below.
But the bad government tries to destroy and bring an end to our struggle and resistance with a war that changes in intensity as it changes its deceptive politics, with its bad ideas, with its lies, using the media to spread them, and by handing out crumbs in the indigenous communities where Zapatistas live in order to divide and to buy off people’s consciences, thus implementing their counterinsurgency plan.
But the war that comes from above, compañeras, compañeros, brothers and sisters, is always the same: it only brings destruction and death.
The ideas and flags may change with whoever is in office, but the war of above always destroys, always kills, never sows anything other than terror and hopelessness.
In the middle of this war, we have had to walk toward what we want.
We could not sit and wait for the understanding of those who don’t even understand that they don’t understand.
We could not sit and wait for the criminal to repudiate himself and his history and convert himself, repentant, into a good person.
We could not sit and wait for a large and useless list of promises that will be forgotten a few minutes after they are made.
We could not wait for the other, different, but with the same pain and rage, to look at us and in looking at us, see.
We did not know how to do it.
There was no book, manual, or doctrine that told us what to do in order to resist, and simultaneously, to build something new and better.
Maybe not perfect, maybe different, but always ours, our people’s, the women, men, children and elders who, with their collective heart, cover the black flag with a red star with five points and the letters that give them not only a name, but also a commitment and destiny: EZLN.
And so we searched in our ancestral history, in our collective heart, and through the stumbles, through flaws and mistakes, we have been building that which we are and that which not only keeps us going with life and resistance, but also raises us up dignified and rebellious.
During these 22 years of struggle of Resistance and Rebellion, we have continued to build another form of life, governing ourselves as the collective peoples that we are, according to the seven principles of lead by obeying, building a new system and another form of life as original peoples.
One where the people command and the government obeys.
And we see, from our simple heart, that this is the healthiest way, because it is born and grows from the people themselves. It is the people themselves who give their opinions, discuss, think, analyze, make proposals, and decide what is best for them, following the example of our ancestors.
As we will be explaining in more detail later, we see that neglect and poverty reign in the partidista [political party followers] communities, they are run by laziness and crime and community life is broken, now fatally torn apart.
Selling out to the bad government not only did not resolve their basic problems, but gave them more horrors to deal with. Where before there was hunger and poverty, now there is hunger, poverty, and desperation. The partidista communities have become crowds of beggars who don’t work, who only wait for the next government aid program, that is, the next electoral season.
This doesn’t of course show up in any federal, state, or municipal government report, but it is the truth and can be seen in thepartidista communities: peasant farmers who don’t know how to work the land anymore; concrete block houses with aluminum roofs that are empty because one can eat neither concrete nor tin; communities that only come together to receive government crumbs.
Perhaps in our communities there aren’t cement houses, or digital televisions, or brand new trucks, but our people know how to work the land. The food on their tables, the clothes they wear, the medicine they take, the knowledge they learn, the life they live is THEIRS, the product of their work and their knowledge. It isn’t a handout from anyone.
We can say this without shame: the Zapatista communities are not only better off than they were 22 years ago; their quality of life is better than those who sold out to political parties of all colors and stripes.
Before, in order to know if someone was Zapatista, you checked to see if they had a red handkerchief or a balaclava.
Now it is enough to see if they work the land, if they take care of their culture, if they study science and technology, if they respect the women that we are, if their gaze is straight and clear, if they know that it is the collective that rules, if they see the job of the autonomous Zapatista government in rebellion as a service and not a business; if when you ask them something they don’t know they respond “I don’t know…yet”; if when someone mocks them saying that the Zapatistas no longer exist or are very few they respond, “don’t worry, there will be more of us, it may take awhile, but there will be more”; if their gaze reaches far in calendars and geographies; if they know that tomorrow is planted today.
We recognize of course that there is much left to do, we must organize ourselves better and organize ourselves more.
That is why we must make an even greater effort to prepare ourselves to more effectively and more extensively carry out the work of governing ourselves, because the worst of the worst, the capitalist system, will come back at us again.
We have to know how to confront it. We have 32 years of experience already in our struggle of rebellion and resistance.
And we have become what we are.
We are the Zapatista Army for National Liberation.
This is what we are although they do not name us.
This is what we are although through silence and slander they forget us.
This is what we are although they don’t see us.
This is what we are through our step, on our path, in our origin and our destiny.
We look at what was before, and what is now.
A bloody night, worse than before if that is possible, extends over the world.
The Ruler is not only set on continuing to exploit, repress, disrespect, and dispossess, but is determined to destroy the entire world if in doing so it can create profits, money, pay.
It is clear that the worst is coming for all of us.[v]
The rich multimillionaires of a few countries continue with their objective to loot the natural riches of the entire world, everything that gives us life like water, land, forests, mountains, rivers, air; and everything that is below the ground: gold, oil, uranium, amber, sulfur, carbon, and other minerals.
They don’t consider the land as a source of life, but as a business where they can turn everything into a commodity, and commodities they turn into money, and in doing this they will destroy us completely.
The bad and those who carry it out have a name, history, origin, calendar, geography: the capitalist system.
It doesn’t matter what color they paint it, what name they give it, what religion they dress it up as, what flag they raise; it is the capitalist system.
It is the exploitation of humanity and the world we inhabit.
It is disrespect and contempt for everything that is different and that doesn’t sell out, doesn’t give up, and doesn’t give in.
It is the system that persecutes, incarcerates, murders.
At the head of this system there are figures that emerge, reproduce, grow, and die: saviors, leaders, caudillos, candidates, governments, parties that offer their solutions.
They offer recipes, as one more commodity, to resolve problems.
Perhaps someone out there still believes that from above, where problems are made, will also come solutions.
Perhaps there is still someone who believes in local, regional, national, and global saviors.
Perhaps there are those who still hope that someone who will do what we must do ourselves.
That would be nice, yes.
Everything would be so easy, comfortable, not requiring too much effort. It would mean just raising one’s hand, marking a ballot, filling out a form, applauding, shouting a slogan, affiliating oneself with a political party, and voting to throw one out and let another in.
Perhaps, we Zapatistas say, perhaps, we think, we who are what we are.
It would be nice if things were like that, but they aren’t.
What we have learned as Zapatistas, and without anyone or anything except our own path as teacher, is that no one, absolutely no one is going to come and save us, help us, resolve our problems, relieve our pain, or bring us the justice that we need and deserve.
There is only what we do ourselves, everyone in their own calendar and geography, in their own collective name, in their own thinking and action, their own origin and destiny.
We have also learned, as Zapatistas, that this is only possible with organization.
We learned that it is good if one person[vi] gets angry.
But that if more people, many[vii] people get angry, a light ignites in one corner of the world and its glow can be seen, for a moment, across the entire surface of the earth.
But we also learned that if these angers organize themselves… Ah! Then we have not just a momentary flash that illuminates the earth’s surface.
Then what we have is a murmur, like a rumor, a tremor that begins quietly and grows stronger.
It is as if this world was about to birth another, a better one, more just, more democratic, more free, more human… or humana… orhumanoa.
That is why today we begin our words with a word from awhile ago already, but one that continues to be necessary, urgent, vital: we have to organize ourselves, prepare ourselves to struggle to change this life, to create another way of living, another way to govern ourselves as peoples.
Because if we don’t organize, we will be enslaved.
There is nothing to trust in capitalism. Absolutely nothing. We have lived with this system for hundreds of years, and we have suffered under its 4 wheels: exploitation, repression, dispossession, and disdain. Now all we have is our trust in each other, in ourselves. And we know how to create a new society, a new system of government, the just and dignified life that we want.
Now no one is safe from the storm of the capitalist hydra that will destroy our lives, not indigenous people, peasant farmers, workers, teachers, housewives, intellectuals, or workers in general, because there are many workers who struggle to survive daily life, some with a boss and others without, but all caught in the clutches of capitalism.
In other words, there is no salvation within capitalism.
No one will lead us; we must lead ourselves, thinking together about how we will resolve each situation.
Because if we think that there is someone to lead us, well we have already seen how they lead during the last several hundred years of the capitalist system; it didn’t work for us, the poor, at all. It worked for them, yes, because just sitting there they earned money to live on.
They told everyone “vote for me,” “I will fight for an end to exploitation,” and as soon as they take office where they can earn money without sweat, they automatically forget everything they said and begin to create more exploitation, to sell the little that is left of the riches of our countries. Those sell-outs are useless hypocrites, parasite good-for-nothings.
That is why, compañeros and compañeras, the struggle is not over, we are just barely getting started. We’ve only been at this for 32 years, 22 of which were public.
That is why we must better unite ourselves, better organize ourselves in order to construct our boat, our house—that is, our autonomy. That is what is going to save us from the great storm that looms. We must strengthen our different areas of work and our collective tasks.
We have no other possible path but to unite ourselves and organize ourselves to struggle and defend ourselves from the great threat that is the capitalist system. Because the criminal capitalism that threatens all of humanity does not respect anyone; it will sweep aside all of us regardless of race, party, or religion. This has been demonstrated to us over many years of bad government, threats, persecution, incarceration, torture, disappearances, and murder of our peoples of the countryside and the city all over the world.
That is why we say, compañeros, compañeras, children, young people [jóvenes and jovenas]: you new generations are the future of our people, of our struggle and our history. But you must understand that you have a task and an obligation: to follow the example of our first compañeros, of our elders, of our parents and grandparents and all those who began this struggle.
They have already laid a path; now it is our job to follow and maintain it. But we can only achieve this by organizing ourselves generation after generation, understanding this task and organizing ourselves to carry it out, and continuing this until we reach the end of our struggle.
You as young people are an important part of our communities; that is why you must participate in all levels of work in our organization and in all areas of our autonomy. Let each generation continue to lead us toward our destiny of democracy, freedom, and justice, just as our first compañeros and compañeras are teaching us now.
Compañeros and compañeras, all of you, we are sure that we will one day achieve what we want: everything for everyone, nothing for us—that is, our freedom. Today our struggle is advancing little by little. Our weapons of struggle are our resistance, our rebellion, and our honest word, which no mountain nor border can block. It will reach the ears and hearts of brothers and sisters all over the world.
Every day there are more people who understand that the cause of our struggle against the grave situation of injustice we live is the capitalist system in our country and in the world.
We also know that over the course of our struggle there have been and will be threats, repression, persecution, dispossession, contradictions, and mockery from the three levels of bad government. But we should be clear that the bad government hates us because we are on a good path; if it applauds us we have detoured from our struggle.
We must not forget that we are the heirs of more than 500 years of struggle and resistance. The blood of our ancestors runs through our veins, it is they who have passed down to us the example of struggle and rebellion, the role of guardian of our mother earth, from whom we were born, from whom we live, and to whom we will return.
Compañeros and compañeras Zapatistas
Compañeros and compañeras, compañeroas of the Sixth:
Brothers and sisters:
These are our first words for this year that is beginning.
More words will come, more thoughts.
Little by little we will show you once again our gaze, our collective heart.
For now we will finish by telling you that to honor and respect the blood of our fallen compañeros, it is not enough to remember, miss, cry, or pray, rather we must continue the work that they left us, to create in practice the change that we want.
That is why, compañeros and compañeras, this important day is the time to reaffirm our commitment to struggle, to going forward at whatever cost and whatever happens, without letting the capitalist system destroy what we have won and the little that we have been able to build with our work and our efforts over more than 22 years: our freedom!
Now is not the time to retreat, to get discouraged or to tire; we must be even firmer in our struggle, to maintain the word and example that our first compañeros left us: to not give in, not sell out, and not give up.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
For the Indigenous Revolutionary Clandestine Committee—General Command of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation.
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano.
Mexico, January 1, 2016.
[i] A member of the EZLN’s civilian militia or reserves.
[ii] Literally “responsible,” but used as a noun to refer to a person in charge of a particular area of work.
[iii] Zapatista bases of support chosen by their communities and trained to work in the autonomous health and education systems.
[iv] The text uses “todas, todos, todoas” to give a range of possible plural gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.
[v] See iv.
[vi] The text uses “uno, una, unoa” to give a range of possible versions of “one,” including male, female, transgender and others.
[vii] The text uses “muchos, muchas, muchoas” to give a range of possible plural versions of “many” including male, female, transgender and others.
By Ashley Fantz and Holly Yan, CNN
Updated 11:41 AM ET, Sun January 3, 2016 | Video Source: CNN
(CNN)Armed anti-government protesters have taken over a building in a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, accusing officials of unfairly punishing ranchers who refused to sell their land.
One them is Ammon Bundy, the 40-year-old son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who is well-known for anti-government action.
He spoke by phone to CNN on Sunday at 8 a.m. ET. Asked several times what he and those with him want, he answered in vague terms, saying that they want the federal government to restore the "people's constitutional rights."
"This refuge -- it has been destructive to the people of the county and to the people of the area," he said.
"People need to be aware that we've become a system where government is actually claiming and using and defending people's rights, and they are doing that against the people."
Armed protesters rally to support Oregon rancher
The group is inside part of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns after gathering outside for a demonstration supporting Dwight and Steven Hammond, father and son ranchers who were convicted of arson.
Prosecutors said the Hammonds set a fire that burned about 130 acres in 2001, to cover up poaching. The father and son were sentenced to five years in prison.
The Hammonds said they set the fire to reduce the growth of invasive plants and to protect their property from wildfires, CNN affiliate KTVZ reported.
CNN law enforcement analyst Art Roderick, a retired U.S. marshal who investigated anti-government militias for years, warned that Bundy's call for supporters to join him might "turn into a bad situation."
"What's going to happen hopefully (is) ... we don't go out there with a big force, because that's what they're looking for," he said. "The last thing we need is some type of confrontation."
He said that over the years, law enforcement has learned how to handle a situation like this; one that hasn't erupted in violence and in which a law may be broken, but there's no immediate threat to anyone's life.
The best approach now, Roderick said, is to wait the group out and to figure out how to bring a peaceful end to the standoff.
After the march Saturday, the armed protesters broke into the refuge's unoccupied building and refused to leave. Officials have said there are no government employees in the building.
"We will be here as long as it takes," Bundy said. "We have no intentions of using force upon anyone, (but) if force is used against us, we would defend ourselves."
Ammon Bundy said that the group in Oregon was armed, but that he would not describe it as a militia. He declined to say how many people were with him, telling CNN on Sunday that giving that information might jeopardize "operational security."
The elder Bundy drew national attention last year after staging a standoff with federal authorities over a Bureau of Land Management dispute.
"We are not terrorists," Ammon Bundy said. "We are concerned citizens and realize we have to act if we want to pass along anything to our children."
He wouldn't call his group a militia, but others are.
"I don't like the militia's methods," local resident Monica McCannon told KTVZ. "They had their rally. Now it's time for them to go home. People are afraid of them."
A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representative said the agency and the Bureau of Land Management are aware of the armed protesters.
"While the situation is ongoing, the main concern is employee safety, and we can confirm that no federal staff were in the building at the time of the initial incident," the representative said. "We will continue to monitor the situation."
When asked what it would take for the protesters to leave, Bundy did not offer specifics. He said he and those with him are prepared to stay put for days or weeks.
Cliven Bundy's ranch west of Mesquite, Nevada, on April 11, 2014, was the site of a tense standoff between him and the federal government. Bundy and other ranchers have been locked in a dispute with the government for decades over where they can graze their cattle and how they use the land. Click through the images to see what set it off.
"We feel that we will occupy this as long as necessary," he said.
"We are using the wildlife refuge as a place for individuals across the United States to come and assist in helping the people of Harney County claim back their lands and resources," he said.
"The people will need to be able to use the land and resources without fear as free men and women. We know it will take some time."
He did not explicitly call on authorities to commute the prison sentences for the Hammonds, who are scheduled to report to prison Monday. But he said their case illustrates officials' "abuse" of power.
"Now that people such as the Hammonds are taking a stand and not selling their ranches, they are being prosecuted in their own courts as terrorists and putting them in prison for five years," Bundy said.
He said the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has taken over the space of 100 ranches since the early 1900s.
"They are continuing to expand the refuge at the expense of the ranchers and miners," Bundy said.
He also said Harney County, in southeastern Oregon, went from one of the state's wealthiest counties to one of the poorest.
CNN has not independently corroborated Bundy's claims.
"I want to emphasis that the American people are wondering why they can't seem to get ahead or why everything is costing more and you are getting less, and that is because the federal government is taking and using the land and resources," Bundy said.
"And if it is continued, it will put the people in poverty."
Acting U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams of Oregon gave a starkly different perspective on the arson case.
His office declined to comment on the situation at the wildlife refuge Saturday, but it cited an opinion piece written by Williams in the Burns Times Herald last month defending the federal prosecutors' actions in the Hammonds case.
"Five years ago, a federal grand jury charged Dwight and Steven Hammond with committing arson on public lands and endangering firefighters," Williams wrote for the newspaper. "Steven Hammond was also found guilty of committing a second arson in 2006."
The prosecutor said witnesses saw the Hammonds illegally slaughter a herd of deer on public land.
"At least seven deer were shot with others limping or running from the scene," Williams wrote.
He said a teenage relative of the Hammonds testified that Steven Hammond gave him a box of matches and told him to start the blaze. "The fires destroyed evidence of the deer slaughter and took about 130 acres of public land out of public use for two years," the prosecutor wrote.
Williams also disputed the notion that the Hammonds were prosecuted as terrorists, as Bundy suggested.
"The jury was neither asked if the Hammonds were terrorists, nor were defendants ever charged with or accused of terrorism," Williams wrote. "Suggesting otherwise is simply flat-out wrong."
CNN's Evan Perez, Kevin Liptak, Kevin Bohn, Joe Sutton and Jackie Castillo contributed to this report.
It was the moment when the moderator was edging ever closer to the table whereMarjorie Perloff sat, as he waited, microphone in hand, for the end of her answer to the really very truly last question before lunch, so he could bring the session to a close. It was the moment when everyone in the room was beginning to fidget with the awareness that the café serving lunch would close in twenty minutes. It was the moment when the next thing on the agenda was the workshop I was facilitating, which was where my head already was. It was the moment after I’d asked a question that pointed toward Marjorie Perloff’s selective and uncritical reading of critiques of Kenneth Goldsmith as exclusively about who has the right to speak of whom and in which contexts, the moment after the British writer James Wilkes asked a question about narrow channels versus the expansiveness of works that are more porous and polyvocal. It was the moment Perloff chose to answer Wilkes’ question about a poetics of generosity with the statement that we can’t romanticize the victim. What she said, verbatim—at the tail end of the Q&A following her talk at Where Were We, the ArtWriting Festival in Aarhus, Denmark on December 6, 2015—was this:
“I think the romanticization, where everybody kept calling him the poor child Michael Brown, and they constantly showed photographs of him in the media when he had been about 12 years old. That’s what they do. Many of the pictures you saw, he looks like a little kid, he was a 300-pound huge man. Scary. He was scary, I’m just saying, that way. So that things then turn out to be much more complicated. And so I don’t know what’s happened to poetry, or to poetic discourse, I shouldn’t say to poetry, but to poetic discourse, when we have all over Facebook these sentimental things about the poor sweet child and his poor family. Michael Brown himself had said ‘I wish I had a family.’ He didn’t even—he hadn’t seen his father in years, his mother was on crack, he didn’t have much of a family or much of a life.”
I know this is what she said, verbatim. I wrote down her words as she said them, in simultaneous incredulous disbelief and unsurprised belief at her blatant, predictable racism. I also recorded her talk and the Q&A that followed it, so I know for sure that this is what she said. (I’ve transcribed a larger excerpt contextualizing these comments below; feel free to be in touch if you want a copy of the entire recording—it’s poor sound quality and poor critical thinking and nothing you haven’t heard before if you’ve even halfway followed Perloff’s inexplicable or perhaps all too explicable defense of Kenneth Goldsmith’s work, but I’m willing to share the recording with anyone who wants it.)
These hateful, fearful comments were the only information in Perloff’s talk that was new—if not unfamiliar—to me. That is: the open admission that she finds Michael Brown scary, and that she perceives him as not having had “much of a family or much of a life,” as if that might justify (or at least mitigate) his brutal and entirely unjustifiable murder at the hands of the state and more specifically at the end of the barrel of Darren Wilson’s police-issue gun, or Kenneth Goldsmith’s predatory, self-aggrandizing and dehumanizing appropriation of the autopsy report describing Michael Brown’s dead body. As if Perloff should be the judge of what it is to “have a family” or “have a life,” or as if her standards for families and lives should be universal. As if she has some capacity, or some right, to measure how much this particular Black life mattered. I found these comments horrifying yet illuminating—not because it is a surprise that a white woman should express anti-Black sentiment or should feel threatened by and denigrating of an African-American youth, but because Perloff’s perhaps inadvertent honesty in that moment helped me to understand more clearly the backdrop to her willful insistence on amplifying the voices of white supremacist writers in a moment when, on the one hand, such voices need no amplification, and on the other, it could be considered a political and ethical responsibility to make work that explicitly and purposefully counters white supremacy. These comments provided context for the baffling fact that Perloff could speak about and around the fiasco of Goldsmith’s Michael Brown piece for nearly an hour and a half without even once mentioning the Black Lives Matter movement, and without acknowledging the many substantive critiques of that work that extend far beyond the question of who has a right to speak or write about which bodies—her sole, selective, and irresponsibly partial analysis of the criticism of Goldsmith’s piece. This is in no way an exhaustive cataloguing—there’s so much more—but some of the writings that have been most important to my thinking about racial justice in the poetry community have been written by: Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Mahogany Browne and Black Poets Speak Out(there’s a really helpful compendium and notes at Cultural Front), Daniel Borzutzky, Ken Chen, Don Mee Choi, Cura’s “Fulcrum” issue, Joey De Jesús, Hands Up Don’t Shoot, Cathy Park Hong, Bhanu Kapil, John Keene, Eunsong Kim, Amy King, Ruth Ellen Kocher, Kenji Liu, Farid Matuk, and Heriberto Yépez.
Let me be clear: I believe it is my political and ethical responsibility to counter white supremacy explicitly and purposefully, in my creative work and in my teaching and in my cross-language practice and in my everyday conversations and movements through the world—and I don’t actually make much distinction among those realms, in practice or in poetics. I believe, further, that white supremacy is inextricably and intersectionally bound up with heteropatriarchy and voracious capitalism and the kind of anthropocentric consumer mentality that allows humans with privilege to believe that they are somehow immune from the ecological interconnectedness of all living beings (human, fauna, and flora). These are my beliefs, and I work to enact them in multiple ways in multiple contexts, and I often fail, and I continue through failure, and I don’t seek success but rather I seek accountability, porosity, to encounter what is beyond me, to accompany and be accompanied. These are my beliefs, and yet in the moment, as everyone present was being subjected to Marjorie Perloff’s hate speech—or maybe it was less intentional than hate speech? fear speech, perhaps?—I didn’t speak. I heard something and I didn’t say anything. All too often I don’t quite know how to speak. There’s no how-to for making a work or a life that counters white supremacy, nor is such resistance always as clear-cut as responding directly to racism publicly and blatantly expressed. Poetic practice is rarely clear-cut, direct and blatant; this is, in my view, part of its power: to take the everyday often instrumentalized tool that is language and to defamiliarize it in order to make other imaginings, other instigations, and other structures radically and concretely and imaginatively possible.
Marjorie Perloff is a literary gatekeeper par excellence. Many people choose to walk into literary territories through the gates she constructs. Like those who teach, those who declare themselves the arbiters of culture—aside from exhibiting a belief in non-horizontal models I find reactionary at best—have, I believe, a particular responsibility to make choices that are ethical, thoughtful, aware of their social and political implications. Or perhaps it’s not just a question of responsibility, but also one of effects: the choices such gatekeepers make have very real social and political effects. And it is thus crucial for us to understand the scaffoldings on which the gatekeepers build their gates. And to make thoughtful choices about whose work we will use as guide and inspiration. Overt, explicit racism isn’t usually part of the way Perloff constructs her arguments. But it’s crucially important to know that racism is part of what leads her to make the arguments she makes, to promote the work she promotes.
I know there are different forms of speech. I know that our actions both large and small are a form of speech. I know that there was probably no one in that room (save perhaps the infant son of one of the festival participants who has yet to access any language) who did not recognize Perloff’s comments as hideously racist. I know that few if any people in that room needed me to point out how deeply anti-Black her remarks were, how vile they were in their implication that perhaps Michael Brown deserved to die, or at the very least deserved to be objectified by Kenneth Goldsmith after his death. How astounding it was that she could think such comments would be received without protest, as simply another aspect of her argument. How sickeningly predictable it was—perhaps especially in a room where it might have been easy to assume there were no Black people present, but really in any room—to assume complicity with and acceptance of anti-Black commentary. How even more insidious, perhaps, that she should make such comments in a room in Denmark with only a few USAmericans present, a room where it’s quite possible there were people who don’t have broad knowledge about the history of forced African diaspora and slavery in the Americas, and the particular ways that history and its many reverberations continue to shape race relations and racism in the U.S., or about the long-standing and currently glaringly visible plague of state-sponsored violence against Black and Brown people, but particularly against Black people, who are killed by cops andincarcerated in numbers vastly disproportionate to their percentage of the population. All this. All this and more. Yet I didn’t speak, and I wish I had, even just to register out loud my heartfelt and inarticulate this is not okay.
I have some ideas about why I felt so paralyzed, so unable to articulate even the most basic challenge to Perloff’s remarks. And I’m also aware that even if I had been able to say something when I saw (or heard) something, I would still have been left with the dilemma of what to do with this information, these words I now have no choice but to carry with me, having experienced them first-hand. I thought about sending the recording of Perloff’s remarks to the Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo anonymously. I didn’t and don’t want this to be about me—or even, really, about Marjorie Perloff. I’m more interested in thinking about how structures of power and disempowerment function, and ways to resist those structures alongside kindred spirits and across difference. I know that no single instance of being outspoken in response to racism will end racism. I know it’s a lifelong process that takes place in all contexts, at all levels of volume, in a variety of ways. I know that no person should be defined by their worst moments or their most egregious missteps. I know that speaking out immediately when I heard Perloff’s hateful, fearful, predictable, unexamined, easy racism would not have been the last (nor the first) time I will be called to speak in that way. I know all this, and I know there are many reasons we are able or unable to speak in particular instances. And yet I feel that I should have said something in the moment. And that I cannot not say something now.
But I’m not writing this text to unburden myself (as if unburdening were possible). I’m writing it because I believe that public speech should be owned publicly.* If Perloff is going to fly halfway across the globe to articulate her defense of Kenneth Goldsmith’s “genius,” and is going to expose the racist underpinnings of her work in the process, I believe she needs to own those articulations and exposures wherever she goes. And I believe I need to own my articulations and my failures to articulate—hence this brief essay.
* I believe this and I simultaneously believe in the power and the urgent necessity of an anonymous instigatory project like The Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo. I don’t think the conversations that are currently taking place around racial justice and poetic practice would be taking place in quite the way they are without the Mongrel Coalition, and while I don’t think that all-caps manifesto-style speech is the only useful mode of speech, I absolutely see its utility, its beauty, and its acuity. I don’t necessarily want to speak that way myself, but I am deeply grateful that someone does, and is.
Transcript begins at 1:25:54
You can’t say this today but they’ll say it a year from now, that Michael Brown was very romanticized, because there also is the video available of him in the convenience store, which is frightening…In the convenience store where he steals the cigars right before the crime, Michael Brown, he’s this huge guy, and the little man in the shop comes chasing him—it looks like a Charlie Chaplin scene—and comes chasing him and you don’t hear any sound, you know, it’s a surveillance video, hey, you stole the cigars, and Michael Brown takes him with one hand and pushes him against the wall and he trips against the things along the counter. It’s pretty scary. So, you know, things are not so clear-cut. And so, I think the romanticization, where everybody kept calling him the poor child Michael Brown, and they constantly showed photographs of him in the media when he had been about 12 years old. That’s what they do. Many of the pictures you saw, he looks like a little kid, he was a 300-pound huge man. Scary. He was scary, I’m just saying, that way. So that things then turn out to be much more complicated. And so I don’t know what’s happened to poetry, or to poetic discourse, I shouldn’t say to poetry, but to poetic discourse, when we have all over Facebook these sentimental things about the poor sweet child and his poor family. Michael Brown himself had said “I wish I had a family.” (1:27:11) He didn’t even—he hadn’t seen his father in years, his mother was on crack, he didn’t have much of a family or much of a life. Again, we always assume that victims are noble and that is a terrific fallacy. I always hate that, as I say, in Holocaust films where the Jews—I’m Jewish—the Jews are always presented playing the violin. You know, they always have to be… I mean, it’s so ridiculous. Ah, you know, they’re so sensitive, they play the violin. That happens in that movie I just saw, “The Woman In Gold,” which is about the Klimt. Maria, Maria Altman, a real person, goes back to Vienna to recover the Klimt painting, and they have flashbacks of her as a young girl, and her father, who was a business tycoon, who owned the Klimt, I bet he wasn’t such a sweet guy, Otto Bauer who owned the Klimt, but of course in the movie he plays the cello, and he really only cares about the cello. And he’s playing the cello and the Nazi comes in, and the Nazi says “Stradivarius?” I just thought I’d die, I mean, that’s—I just can’t stand it, and that had to show that even Nazis, you see, they cared about music. That was their paradox. So he says “Stradivarius?” and all that. I mean, this kind of thing. One always has to remember, that doesn’t mean you don’t care about victims, but victims are not necessarily nice people any more than the people who victimize them. They can be horrible people too. There’s nothing saying that they’re all sweet and good, and that’s how we—the newspapers of course, and the media, Karl Kraus is great on that issue, in representing some of the victims. If you know the lives of the victims, you know, then you get a rather different sense of the thing and it’s really much more interesting. And, um, and the only way to be effective…to avoid future wars, would be instead of always having these things about people in concentration camps, to study the 1930s, the 20s and 30s, the interwar period, and see how people behaved and what it is that happened. And when you do, you start to see WWII already there by 1920, really. I mean, it was going to come, given what was going on, and there was no real surprise at all. In other words, you have to study the complexities. Now I’m not saying… I’m not going to make that case for the Michael Brown piece, I think it was superficial in a way and it was a mistake, it was in bad taste. I think it was. When I first heard about it I thought, oh, why did he do that, that’s in horrible taste, it’s in very bad taste at this moment, to do that. On the other hand, when I saw the reaction, I think and this is how I feel, however bad the piece is, and however in bad taste, and even in bad moral taste, that there was something wrong with it, I think the reaction to it is even much worse. I have never seen anything like people attacking each other that way. And I feel the same way about the attacks on Vanessa Place. This is the role I guess of the internet. People wouldn’t have ever dared do it in print. I mean, when I went to school I was taught you say “Ah, this is good, but might he have not done this, or there could be more of that,” or you know, you attacked politely. But these things of just saying this is terrible or he’s a horrible person, or Fred Moten wrote write on Facebook “What the fuck are you doing?”—you know, this kind of thing, I mean, I don’t consider that criticism, I think it was very destructive, and I think, um, if we’re going to start getting like that you might as well close shop. Many of us had the reaction that we just want to get away from the poetry world. If that’s the poetry world, let them have it, I don’t want to be in it. I don’t want to have anything to do with it. And that is how people then react, because it’s too superficial, and too nasty, really. I mean, he didn’t commit a crime, you know, and in fact he was very, if you read Dan Morris’s piece you’ll see, he thought he was being very sympathetic. It didn’t come out that way, he didn’t do it right, maybe, but he did think so.
by Benjamin Sutton on December 9, 2015
Today a Bloomberg Business article revealed the buyer of the only copy of the new Wu-Tang Clan album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin…, to be pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli. If that name sounds familiar it may be because Shkreli recently earned himself the distinction of being “the most hated man in America” — not quite as catchy as “Method Man,” but what can you do? — when his company Turing Pharmaceuticals AG bought the manufacturing rights to the drug pyrimethamine (distributed as Darapim and used, among other things, to treat individuals living with HIV) and immediately raised its per-tablet price from $13.50 to $750.
“The sale of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was agreed upon in May, well before Martin Skhreli’s [sic] business practices came to light,” Wu-Tang leader RZA told Bloomberg Business. “We decided to give a significant portion of the proceeds to charity.”
Shkreli reportedly paid $2 million (or the equivalent of 2,667 Daraprim tablets) to become the sole owner of the 31-track, 128-minute album, a sale that was brokered by online art auction startup Paddle8. The record comes in a box of hand-carved nickel-silver, designed by the artist Yahya, that also contains a leather-bound, 174-page book of lyrics and notes about the development of each song. “This is like somebody having the scepter of an Egyptian king,” RZA told Forbes when the super-exclusive gilded album project was first revealed.
Judging by his public comments, Shkreli does indeed consider himself to be a kind of big pharma pharaoh. “Typically you would say, ‘As an average fan, I can’t get Fetty Wap to give me a personal concert,’ ” he told Bloomberg Business shortly before a Turing Pharmaceuticals holiday party at which the rapper Fetty Wap was performing. “The reality is, sure you could. You know, at the right price these guys basically will do anything.”
For the right price, apparently, Shkreli will also do anything. By way of justifying his company’s price-gauging of pyrimethamine, he said: “What’s escaped the conversation is, hey, how about the fact that this is actually what I’ve been hired to do …. It’s like someone criticizing a basketball player for scoring too many points.” And while Shkreli scores points for his company, people living with a deadly virus are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to be treated with a drug that cost a fraction of the price four months ago.
In September Stephen B. Calderwood, the president of Diseases Society of America, and Adaora Adimora, the chair of the HIV Medicine Association, wrote to Shkreli’s company pleading for a revision of its pricing scheme.
“Pyrimethamine is particularly important for the treatment of toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that has severe consequences if not effectively treated in pregnant women, patients with HIV infection, cancers, and other conditions that compromise the immune system,” they explained. “Under the current pricing structure, it is estimated that the annual cost of treatment for toxoplasmosis, for the pyrimethamine component alone, will be $336,000 for patients who weigh less than 60 kilograms and $634,500 for patients who weigh more than 60 kilograms. This cost is unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population in need of this medication and unsustainable for the health care system.”
Shkreli seems unmoved. In an interview in late September, he said: “We know, these days, in modern pharmaceuticals, cancer drugs can cost $100,000 or more …. Daraprim is still under-priced relative to its peers.” He must be getting financial advice from …
Tilleke Schwarz: From conception to creation
Tilleke Schwarz makes fine hand embroidered work which contains images, texts, and traditional items. Typical of her unique work is the poetic character; a result of combining content, lively composition and sensitive, subtle use of colour.
Tilleke studied General Arts and Textile Design at the Academy for Arts and Industry, Enschede and Textile-experiments and painting at the Free Academy for Modern Art, The Hague, both in The Netherlands. Her work has traveled all over the world, from Friesian Museum and Museum Rijswijk in the Netherlands to the Museum of Arts & Design, New York, USA. Her work has been published in numerous books and magazines and has won several prizes.
In this interview, which is part of our From Conception to Creation series, we take a closer look at ‘On the hoof’. From a humble, perhaps unconventional beginning to the thought provoking end result, Tilleke guides us through her working process. We learn what drives and inspires her and practically how she eventually get’s the job done.
Name of piece: On the hoof
Year of piece: 2015
Size of piece: 69 x 60 cm.
Materials used: Cotton, silk and metallic threads on 50 count lines
Techniques/methods used: Hand embroidery
TextileArtist.org: What research did you do before you started to make?
Tilleke Schwarz: My approach is, perhaps, a bit different from most other artists. I never start with a complete plan or concept and I dislike to work with one specific theme. Actually I like to think that my whole body of work (1988 until now) is all part of one large concept: “the oddities of our modern society”. I enjoy combining different items out of their original context so the oddities of our society will show better.
So I am perfectly fine with just a few ideas to start out with. These could be notes, doodles, drawings, cuttings from a book or an image or text downloaded from the internet. I absolutely believe that anything goes as a source for inspiration!
The items I select somehow “speak to me” because I find them interesting, moving, intriguing or surprising. Usually I select only part of my collection of items and will find more while working. Creating a new work takes about 4 to 6 months, so that gives me plenty of time to find new additions. I know most people are taught to start from a concept, do some research and make a basic design. But I prefer not to do so, as I enjoy to develop a new piece slowly. That way it becomes a kind of a challenge for me, my personal embroidery adventure.
During my teaching about how to design one’s own work, I discovered that some students find my approach very liberating and others find it confusing. For students who are more happy with a bit of structure and planning I have developed a beginning, with a basic composition that still allows some freedom to add items while working.
Well that is my general story now a bit more about this particular work. The title ‘On the hoof’ was found at the bottom of the emails from Adriano Digaudio (MMU). I fancied him on a white horse but did not include the horse.
A major item in ‘On the hoof’ is an image of a Saint Bernard dog with the text “Missing Tzou”, found yeah!”. During my teaching time at Maiwa in Vancouver, their huge family dog, named Tzou, got lost. The owners put a lot of effort in finding their lovely dog again. They were on local television and signposted messages everywhere. Luckily the dog was found within a day and everybody was very happy and the owners wrote “found Yeah!” on all the messages on the wall. This was quite moving and I saved one of these messages, which became my starting point.
Here’s another example of how I work. I saw an interesting painting by Picabia and loved the way the leaves were spread all over the image. So I decided to add the outline of leaves to my work. I used some leaves from my garden by simply photocopying the leaves and using the outlines of these images.
Tradition is wonderful and . . . useful! Every country has a tradition that can inspire. Some countries are famous for their textiles, others for ceramics, music and poetry. I am for instance inspired by the Dutch sampler tradition and often include traditional cross stitch patterns in my work. For instance; the prehistoric tyrannosaurus-rex is covered with traditional birds. For this pattern I have used a fine multi-coloured, single stranded silk thread, Tentakulum often known as Painters thread. On the right you see a cross stitch flower pattern from Turkey, which I stitched upside down. The other image shows a detailed sampler pattern from the Vierlanden area in Germany.
My main muze is our cat Vosje II. Almost all my work include a few cats. For instance a cross stitch cat and a cat based on my drawing, covered with cloth and a text stitched on top (quotes from a MMU disclaimer). Sadly Vosje died recently and we have now a male kitten, named Tom.
I always like to include texts in my work. They add content and meaning and also a graphic element. For instance some details from a Bladder infection test, a line from an Irish folk song and information about the Big Bang on the internet. I adore “disclaimers”. In the past I have incorporated a disclaimer by the Embroiderers Guild stating that they are not responsible etc. In Fisk you’ll find an email quote, stating that the addressee is out of office in the Welsh language. I combined the this text with a big fish. So it looks like the fish is out of office.
I love flowers and always have fresh flowers in our living room. So that is why a lot of my works contain flowers. I enjoy adding them in different techniques.
As you will understand by now, there is a reason for every item In my work. But it will take too long to explain everything I have included.
Was there any other preparatory work?
The main decision at the start is to choose what colour my cloth will be. My favorite linen comes only in white. So if I need a coloured background I have to dye this material. Dying is quite a special skill. So I make it fairly easy and buy a good quality of dye, usually Procion, and go by the instructions of the factory. For ‘On the hoof’ I choose to start out with the white background, so no dying was needed. I always start with a large piece of cloth, so I will have plenty material left for a border and to finish the work. For ‘On the hoof’ I started out with a piece of linen of 90 x 100 cm. The final work is 69 x 60 cm. including a border, so the stitched part is 56 x 49 cm. Before I start to stitch I always make an outline on the cloth in a running stitch to mark the space that I intend to use for my new work. This outline can be in any colour as it will be removed.
What materials were used in the creation of the piece? How did you select them? Where did you source them?
I always use the same 50 count linen, that is produced in Weddigen, Germany. I use different kinds of fine thread for embroidery. This can be either silk, cotton, rayon or metal thread, embroidery floss as well as sewing thread. I prefer even weave linen as I usually add some cross stitches and I like the stitches to be square. I buy threads where ever I can, all over the world. I possess a well organized collection of more than 2000 different colours of thread all neatly stored on colour in boxes. I have previously written an article about this for TextileArtist.org
Recently I like to include small items in the appliqué technique. For this I use tiny scraps of cloth, lace and cloth tags that are being stitched in.
Appliqué is a great technique to speed up the work and adds to the variety in texture.
What equipment did you use in the creation of the piece and how was it used?
I only use basic sewing equipment, like pins, a needle and scissors. I have the cloth loose in my hand and never use hoops or frames.
My stitching technique is mostly very basic, just running stitches, cross stitches, couching and appliqué. The use of colour by combining different threads is probably less basic.
Take us through the creation of the piece stage by stage.
Sorry, I never make step by step images. I work very free and can start out anywhere on my cloth. At the start I just am focused on the content. However, It is most important to watch the composition while working by taking a step back. So I often pin my work on a soft wall in order to look at it from a distance. This part of the creative process is no different from the approach of other artists for drawings and paintings! So here my general art training is very useful. When a part of my piece is “not working”, it needs to be corrected by either unpicking it or by covering it with some cloth or more stitching. I do not like to do this as it’s very time consuming but sometimes it is absolutely necessary.
A large example of covering up a part of my original work can be seen in my work Rites (1999). Top right is a piece of lace that is covering something underneath. I like that the part beneath the lace still shows a bit. Of course if you do this the covering piece has to be part of the whole composition.
It is always difficult to decide when a piece is finished. But when I find myself unpicking almost as much as adding it is about time to stop. It helps to pin a work for a longer time on a soft wall for one or more weeks and look at it very frequent to decide if it is finished. Needless to say . . it helps to have a soft wall in your studio. But instead you can pin your work on a large sheet and hang the sheet over a door or at the washing line.
What journey has the piece been on since its creation? (Galleries, exhibitions, prizes, sale, reviews etc.)
Most of my work has been exhibited all over the world and has appeared in many books and magazines. However this piece has just been finished and was only on show in the summer of 2015 during my workshop at Shakerag in Sewanee (TN, US). It will participate – however in the 62 group show in 2016 at the Silk museum in Macclesfield (UK) from June 17 till September 3 2016.
For more information visit: www.tillekeschwarz.com
Despite only accounting for five percent of the global population, an astounding 31 percent of the world's mass shootings occur in the U.S.
That sobering statistic from the University of Alabama Department of Criminal Justice was again brought to the forefront Wednesday, when a couple killed at least 14 people in San Bernardino, California — the deadliest mass shooting in the U.S. since the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, three years ago.
Even worse: This year, there have been more mass shootings — defined as incidents in which four or more victims are shot — than days in the calendar year. According to ShootingTracker.com, which tracks deaths by guns in America, the U.S. has seen 355 mass shootings so far in 2015.
Twenty days of 2015 saw four or more mass shootings in a single day.
In the past week, there have been six mass shootings, ShootingTracker.com reports — including the shootout at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The San Bernardino massacre was the second one on Wednesday alone: Earlier in the day, four people were shot in Georgia, one of whom died.
And gun sales are going up. There were more gun background checks on this year's Black Friday than any other single day on record: 185,345, according to the FBI. That's up five percent from Black Friday last year, when there were 175,754 background checks.
There are roughly 300 million firearms in the U.S. — enough for every American. Tens of millions of Americans, however, do not own guns.
Fifty times more Americans have been killed by guns than terrorist attacks since 9/11, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Global Terrorism Database says.
The San Bernardino suspects — Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, 27 — were killed after exchanging gunfire with police more than four hours after the rampage at the Inland Regional Center.
Authorities have not ruled out terrorism as a motive.