Justice for George Floyd rally, San Francisco

Home again after being at today’s rally at City Hall. I went out in support of the protests across the US right now calling for justice in the brazen police murder of George Floyd but also so many other police murders. If you are looking for information or a way to support have a look at the Black Disability Collective, donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund or one of the orgs they recommend. One more quick note please be aware a huge number of police murders are of disabled people and specifically of black and indigenous disabled people of color. Read up on it!!!!! Essential part of understanding disability justice!!!!

On to my report on the rally and march.

BART and bus were not crowded. I wore a cloth mask over my n95. Hit the Civic Center farmers market, got flowers and some cherries, and then was hanging on the lawn, people on the grass reading or also eating their farmers market cherries. As the rally started, I blocked the street on one side of City Hall with a few others (I’m a very effective traffic stopper). A large amount of police transport vans and white prison buses were gathered along the other end of City Hall, and I spotted a lot of cops as lookouts on top of the buildings surrounding us.There were speeches from the steps fo City Hall and then some chanting. Then I sat with this guy Hollywood as an enormous line of hundreds of cops quick-marked in lockstep across the center of the park, half splitting off to the other side and half coming to our side, where they assumed another formation half looking outward and half looking inward to the rally. They were in light vest armor with huge batons.

political march in downtown sf

This group took off marching down Market Street around 3:30pm, with maybe 50 cops in front and 50-100 in back. I ran into Yoz and Mikki and marched with them a while. I went from there to Embarcadero, slowly, then back along Market where I fell in with TWO different giant multi-thousand person marches. It was a lovely afternoon and there was great goodwill through the crowds, people handing out water bottles, the chants not being pointless, had some good conversations every time I paused to hang out with another wheelchair user. People’s signs were also really sweet and touching. There is just a lot of good fellow feeling as well as shared pain, anger, fear, determination.

marchers on market street

As I went back looking for an open BART station, Market Street was starting to be lined with cops in full riot gear. I would pause every half block or so if there was a group of them together and try to talk to them. Man what are you doing. You’re guarding this Old Navy rather than helping people in a difficult time. You don’t have to be a cop. You could get another job, you could do something better with your life, it is not too late. You’re young, you’re healthy! You can do anything with your life! You don’t have to do this, even right now. You could quit. You could join us and try to build a better world.

Well, it made me feel better, and no one beat me up for it, so. I actually felt anguish for them as they stood their in their storm trooper armor. They will beat someone tonight, they will throw tear gas or shoot rubber bullets, they’ll put out someone’s eye, either just because they’re amped up, because they think they have to defend a fucking MALL SHOP, or because they are full of hate and violence, to show off for each other how tough they are, and it will do damage to their own selves in the process, as well as to living people and to the fabric of our society. I felt a sort of motherly pain for them. I’m sorry that sounds cheesy but it’s true I felt like an old crone looking at fresh-faced evil not unable to be redeemed.

Many people took pictures of me from the sidewalk as I marched, as they were doing video or snapshots of the crowd I could see them start at the sight of me (I’m really something!!) and zero in and then just follow me trying to get the right shot of the wheelchair lady. I don’t mind, I’m representing.

Then home via BART. Take note if you are downtown that Powell and Civic Center BART are now closed, and I heard but didn’t verify that Embarcadero was closed. I am worried about the amount of people who may get trapped in downtown with riot cops ready to mix it up. It is going to be scary tonight.

Despite everyone telling me to stay safe I felt it was important for my own conscience to go out into the street and put my body and health on the line for black, indigenous, and other people of color, for their safety and freedom and health. We need to defend our communities. None of us are safe if we are not all safe.

The last few days I’ve been just donating to bail funds but that has a horrible feel of “Like Uber, but for activism” in that I stay home because it’s “not safe” for me, (risk factors of the rona, or from some fear of being disabled in a riot, and definitely the fear of being shackled ot a hospital bed which seems to be what happens to wheelchair users who are arrested) when it’s actually not safe for anyone and the whole idea I get to opt in to be “safe” while tweeting revolutionary thoughts like a vanguardist while others risk their lives and they I pay them, is too gross for me to deal with. At least get my ass out there for one day. I’m not even missing work. Over and out!

liz with protest sign

Hunkering down

As we go deeper into social distancing, I have some thoughts to share.

Danny and I both tend to read the whole internets (usually while we should be sleeping) and keep our finger on the pulse of things so it is interesting to compare notes with him about the rapidly changing situation and responses and theories and all that.

It’s been touching to see people “reaching out” to me as a possibly vulnerable person. Often folks who I have known online a while and who are worrying about me b/c I am disabled. Thanks friends. (I am fine and have a lot of social support and also sufficient money.) I also got a pneumovax shot yesterday to potentially decrease a bit of risk of getting extra lung infections on top of COVID-19. Danny started working from home (partly to protect me which I appreciated more than I realized I would once he said it).

I had some plans to go circulate letters to neighbors offering mutual aid but I find that I’m just a bit exhausted emotionally. I might do it next week. Instead, right now, I am donating cash to the Disability Culture Club (Venmo to @DJCultureClub) and am hosting a Stardew Valley group game for kids/teenagers/anyone stressed (with the Unlimited Players mod). Hosting a small online space and making it hospitable and building out a game Discord channel is something I can do, and all the kids are out of school for weeks if not months, so why not. Gaming is now my activism, lol?

Here’s more about the DJCC:

Are you a disabled person or elder in the [SF/Oakland] East Bay needing extra support during COVID19, maybe because you can’t risk exposure on public transit, your attendant called out, etc? Please share your needs with us at https://tinyurl.com/DJCCsupportform so we can try to assist. Please know we are prioritizing BIPOC, will be triaging needs, and can’t make promises (grocery stores are sold out of a lot and we are disabled volunteers of color doing mutual aid, not the Red Cross!)

If you are an ally wanting to offer support, the best way is to Venmo us at @DJCultureClub to pay for hand sanitizer, masks, gas, caregiver pay, protective gear, groceries, and to fund ongoing mutual aid projects like this. We also very much need local abled volunteers who are not in contact with those at risk to provide support. Please complete our ally form here: https://tinyurl.com/DJCCally

The job hunt continues, and all the places that interviewed me and then said “we’d love to hire you but we can’t accommodate remote work” then went the very next freaking week (or two) into their entire company going remote. I should go back to them and say they should reconsider since I’m an expert in doing tech work from home — as I’ve done it successfully for two decades.

A lot of disabled people are having that sort of feeling of half resentment, half hope (or some other proportion, maybe it’s more 90/10 or 99/1!) at society’s ability to suddenly bend and adapt and change its structures NOW, for everyone, when they wouldn’t a week ago, for us. Or, are expressing some level of eye rolling as people go stir crazy after 2 days staying at home. Hi, welcome to a lot of our realities (me and other people who have had long periods “home-bound”). Oh, it feels so sad that you can’t go to that event you had tickets for and were looking forward to for months? Yeah I know. (Also skimming over the obvious horribleness of people hoarding stuff that for some disabled/ill people are necessary daily survival supplies, like alcohol wipes, etc but let’s move on for now…)

I can’t stay in that feeling for long, and what you should try to do to move out of it and let go of the bitter or resentful feelings, is realize we have many coping skills to share. Just like you, an experienced disabled or chronically ill person, would do to mentor a newbie, (Like we do all the time!) here is where your experience comes into play, and your having gone deep into these feelings and emerged again, becomes somewhere that you shine. That can sound too much like “we exist to teach the abled a lesson” but that isn’t it — because they’re not going to necessarily stay in able-landia, the world is changing for at least the medium term, and millions of people recovering from severe pneumonia isn’t going to result in millions of able healthy not-chronically ill people. They will need us, for solidarity and to know how to live well and we will need their mass political support even if it is new and based on their own new needs. (I’m thinking free universal health care here.)

That said, hi, I’m actually a bit scared, knowing we’re all going to get this sooner or later, and having had a lot of respiratory illnesses, I’m scared of having a worse one, because it’s scary and hurts and you feel super anxious not breathing well, and it would be a heinous way to die and I don’t want to die. However, if I do, not to be morbid, at least I have the comfort that I have had a really great life.

Jouissance and a sense of agency

Morning reading: Introduction to Hacking Diversity: The Politics of Inclusion in Open Technology Cultures by Christina Dunbar-Hester. This is going to be fun since everyone I know is quoted in it (often pseudonymously) But no quotes from me (I think) as during the interview phase I was having some sort of major health flare-up. And if there’s ever a book where I should be obscurely in the footnotes somewhere it’s this one!

Though “diversity in tech” discourse is emanating from many quarters in our current historical moment, it is important that the mandate of open-technology cultures is not identical to that of industry and higher education. Here, the reasons for engagement with technology nominally include experiencing jouissance and a sense of agency. This is experienced through, yet not reducible to, community members’ engagement with technology. If we tease apart the emancipatory politics from the technical engagement, we find that the calls for inclusion and for reframing power relations are not only about technical domains; rather, they are about agency, equity, and self-determination at individual and collective levels.

At that “jouissance” sentence I felt my heart sing and I felt so seen. Yes! This bodes well for the entire book’s understanding of our feelings and our context. So many histories leave out crucial things like love and fun and joy. Why have I fucked around with computers my whole life? Because love and happiness is why. They’re exciting, the Internet is still like a dream to me, the access to information and the possibilities of unfiltered/unmediated publishing or production, and consumption, still holds so much hope. Because I (we) like it that’s why. Like Mole seeing the Water Rat’s boat for the first time,

The Rat said nothing, but stooped and unfastened a rope and hauled on it; then lightly stepped into a little boat which the Mole had not observed. It was painted blue outside and white within, and was just the size for two animals; and the Mole’s whole heart went out to it at once, even though he did not yet fully understand its uses.

We still don’t, of course.

Also good, everything in this chapter about collectivity. *heart eyes emoji*

On the horrible human rights abuses perpetrated by the USA

Just a note that it is completely horrifying that the US government continues amping up its focus on concentration camps, detention centers, etc.

AND also, no one at all should be in prison or jail as it currently exists and this is just one more manifestation of an unsustainable multigenerational injustice of the growth of the carceral state, or prison industrial complex, or both. Abolish prisons and abolish ICE. This is the greatest horror of our time and country and it has been so for all my life. Ethically I should probably focus whatever of my energies aren’t going towards my job in open source software, into fighting the carceral state. Must think about how to do this and look for good organizations to join & support. Donating to bail people out is one thing, for immediate relief of a few people, but it needs huge legal, cultural, structural changes to stop what’s happening and try to undo the incalculable harm…

kthanxbai, Just had to get that off my chest.

Supporting SFWAR at the Walk Against Rape

After many years of planning to go and missing out, I finally made it to SF Women Against Rape‘s annual Walk Against Rape. It was very sweet – we had pastries, and made posters, I saw a few people I knew, we listened to poetry ( missed the poet’s name), speeches, and Susana y su Orquestra Adelante, then assembled in the street for a 2 mile march from the Women’s Building down to 16th and Mission, to 24th and Mission, then down 24th a few blocks & back again.

Before the march started I took it on myself to block off the side street where cars were still coming through – taking with me some handy folks including a large, kindly man obsessed with talking about his motorcycle who I felt would answer my call of punk sisterhood and several charming Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence one of whom I turned out to know. We turned back some cars and after a while a motorcycle cop showed up to do the honors. Back to the gathering march – I got up front with the banner holders. It is easier for me to be at the front or the back, so why not the front where I can represent for my wheely fellow survivors. I chanted the chants and waved at people and held up part of the banner for a while. The band (who reminded me of the stanford marching band – goofy awesome outfits) was great. Nothing like a marching band!!!! I love them!

Unpleasant aspects of the march: we were herded into one lane of the street by cops and they were just unpleasantly close to us much of the time. And, the kinda creepy dude with the nose ring and the replacements hoodie who followed the march the entire way filming it. I have actually had this same guy in my face before at the dyke march and I have a feeling I kind of know him like he is a friend of a friend (or an acquaintance). It takes a special kind of tacky to be a guy filming a march of mostly young women in this way. Not as a comrade, not in support, but for what? Stock photos? Weird fetish? Thinks he’s the documentarian of the revolution? Dunno. I ran him off a couple of times by staring him down and filming him back and one of the march organizers also got him to quit going right smack in front of us (though he just came right back). There was also a young man, high school or early college, who i thought maybe was doing an actual photojournalism assignment and he was not very good at whatever he was trying to do but at least he didn’t give off the massive creepster vibes of Mr. Descendents Hoodie.

So I spent a lot of the march with a huge crowd of mostly women at my back, staring down the cameraman and staring at some cop’s ass, gun, taser, and well worn nightstick. Typical….

The nice bits other than the people marching with, my friend Z showed up and handed out adorable “take no bullshit” stickers was one good thing; another was that many many people come out to see the march, to wave, honk in support, or just fall in and join us. That’s a really nice feeling.

SFWAR is a great organization that does good work, please donate to support them! Or, donate to an anti-rape or anti-domestic violence nonprofit near you — pick a small local one that supports your own community!!!

Hot springs here I come!

I’m so excited to go to the hot springs, it’s all I can think about!

I re-read Sorcerer to the Crown recently & The True Queen by Zen Cho & heartily recommend them! They’re so much fun. I hope there will be more!

NOw reading Fifteen Poets of the Aztec World, by Miguel León-Portilla, and some other books – Four Masterworks of American Indian Literature, pretty interesting (the footnotes are where all the action is – I wish the footnotes were on each page instead of at the end of each work.)

What else. I’m pretty brain dead today. Milo is back from his 3 day camping LARP so I’m sure I’ll hear all about that soon! I’m going out for a drink and then plan to read until Danny gets home from LibrePlanet later tonight.

Spent some time looking over this May First stuff. Also reading about Cooperation Jackson.

Sustainable activism

My friend Zach was out today with a pretty cool setup. Just out on the local streetcorner with a giant homemade amp (made from parts from Noisebridge) and a record player, powered from his mobility scooter battery. The album is titled WE SHALL OVERCOME! Documentary of the March on Washington and has speeches and songs from the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom. Anyway, he was playing MLK’s speech just hanging out there on the sidewalk at the bus stop. He had a photo of MLK in a frame with flowers around it. People were honking as they went by and stopping to listen and chat. It was really nice.

mlk-album

The thing is it is too hard for him to get to any of the actual events in town right now because of mobility, health & so on. I admire him making his own event at his own pace right on our block and what he could sustain doing, bringing all his skills in making electronics stuff, special power supplies and power converters, and scavenging, along with a super awesome sensibility that you can celebrate the life and ideas of Martin Luther King Jr. by making this beautiful bit of culture out on the sidewalk on an ordinary street corner. As a result anyone else who couldn’t get to a special thing downtown, or wherever, but had to go about their ordinary day, got this piece of community added to their day.

Satirical fake newspapers

I just pre-ordered my copy of The Ventriloquists, a novel that tells the story of Faux Soir, a Belgian satirical newspaper slamming the occupying Nazis.

In this triumphant debut inspired by true events, a ragtag gang of journalists and resistance fighters risk everything for an elaborate scheme to undermine the Reich.

Brussels, 1943. Twelve-year-old street orphan Helene survives by living as a boy and selling copies of the country’s most popular newspaper, Le Soir, now turned into Nazi propaganda. Helene’s entire world changes when she befriends a rogue journalist, Marc Aubrion, who draws her into a secret network publishing dissident underground newspapers.

From reading the Wikipedia entry on Faux Soir it’s amazing and beautiful how satire can be such a strong point of resistance.

Seems relevant given the satirical Washington Post put out today by “trickster activist collective” the Yes Men & their previous New York Times special edition.

Infrastructure adoption

I just went out in a light drizzle to check the storm drain nearest to my house, which I signed up to maintain a while back on SF Adopt-a-Drain. From this site, I get an email when major rain is coming. I forgot to respond to the last one, and then had to cross many intersections around Mission and 30th, enormous, roiling, leafy rivers which my new chair with its excellent clearance plowed right through. Finally as I came to “my” adopted drain I stopped (safely on the curb) and dug out all the leaves with my cane, flipping big globs of trash awkwardly onto the sidewalk where I left them neatly piled. (Unwilling to go so far as to go home and get a bag.)

Well, for a few minutes there I felt like my friend Crystal who keeps getting written up in the news either for shoveling snow in her neighborhood or for politically rustling everyone else up to properly clear the sidewalks.

My suspicion is that the guys in the restaurant on the corner saw me do this and came out to clean the drain afterwards. (Cannot help but be aware that many people would interpret my doing this normal and minor civic action as somehow full of pathos.)

The streets do get swept here every two weeks (by the absolutely adorable streetsweeping machines that I love to watch – what – I love trucks!) but since it’s a very long hill, a lot of leaves pile up during the first few rains. I’ll see tomorrow if the river re-appears or if the drain needs clearing again!

Another good “help maintain the city” tool I like and use: SeeClickFix. It is an interface to the city’s 311 service for reporting all sorts of issues. You can use the SeeClickFi phone app to take a photo and report stuff like sidewalk cracks, potholes, garbage, trees that need maintenance, and so on. Some of “my” issues get fixed and some don’t, but on the whole it’s a pretty nice interface where it is easy to see if there has been any action, or if others in the neighborhood agree about the issue.

Random encounter: scooter demo on the bus

Random encounter: On the 49 bus yesterday I explained my scooter to a woman who was very interested in one for herself. Then had to start over but this time in Spanish for another woman and then the first one began translating for someone who spoke Mandarin. 5 people took cards with the name of the scooter on it (at least…. I may have lost count). Somewhere between 24th St. and 14th St. I finally just took the whole scooter apart, folded it up, passed around the lithium battery, then put it back together (by request). “FREE SHOW Y’ALL!!!”

The first lady (the Chinese translator) nearly got off the bus with me to try it. She had opinions on reupholstering, making it easier to fold, a better cup holder, my decorations, the good qualities of the little bell on my handlebars (which she kept reaching over to ring, looking at me and giggling)

It was a little bit emotionally exhausting and I missed my usual Ingress hacking/Pokémon catching fun for the bus ride but it was also super fun. We had good cameraderie going in the front section of the bus.

If everyone I talk with about mobility scooters gets one, none of us are gonna be able to fit on the bus 😀 They will need more and better buses, that’s all!