I’ve been going for walks by myself sometimes, when Ming is out serving the hungry. I feel brave and kind of free–at the same time, exposed. But it’s early enough that few people are out and about. I see tons of trash.
The shopping cart was made to facilitate capitalism, which is exploitative production of cheap goods, to get the most profit possible. Mother Earth and well-being of all life be damned. Actual need doesn’t matter, or durability, or beauty, usually.
Here in my neighborhood, a shopping cart has gone rogue, disconnected from its store, and filled with trash. The trash is what the cheap goods quickly become.
And trash is how police, government in general, and capitalism treat the humans of my neighborhood also. Ming and I live here for real, but the Historic Westside of Las Vegas is a Black neighborhood.
Who filled it? I saw the shopping cart, gleaming beautiful in the early morning light, while most people are asleep. But early morning is the only time it might be cool enough for me to go outside and move around.
I love this shopping cart and wonder about its destiny, in our neighborhood, where the streets glitter with broken glass, chickens might roost in a tree, homeless people sleep on a sidewalk, and abandoned cars, mattresses, couches, toys, and tvs are left everywhere.
Gardens grow, neighbors might say hello and share news, drunk people yell at the park, churches are everywhere. Fliers are taped to light posts, recruiting for the local Black Panthers. I check out the dumpsters, admire pallets, and take pictures.
I feel like trash, much of the time. Culture doesn’t praise me as employed, parenting, going to school, or successful in any way. I’m not legally married, don’t drive, don’t own a house or car. I’m fat and crazy, on disability. I ride my trike around and make a lot of art, including zines, but it’s not recognized as important.
I feel like trash because I’m discarded and considered of no worth. But I’m as rich as the most nuanced, delicious cheesecake. I’m filled with history and possibility. Yes, I could be given a painful label, but I am brilliantly useful and valid, every day.
I tell the truth, which feels rare, sometimes. I’m vulnerable and build community. It’s not paying, but it’s work.
I see the trash and in it, I see myself, and many many other people: drug addicts, sex workers, crazy, homeless, forgotten, left behind, ignored, de-humanized. We get the shit end of the stick, a lot of the time, and can have our freedom taken away, too easily.
But I think we’re beautiful and actually amazing. It’s more than an underdog thing, or a survivor thing. Maybe like a trickster or joker–we have risk, but we’re the potentiality that life comes from. I feel like I’m made of purposeful, creative chaos, sometimes.
We trash-considered people can be seen as dangerous, but we actually receive a lot of violence and danger, more than we dish it. And if I’m right, we’re part of the vital energy of Mother God, like Shakti energy that everything comes out of. We are important.
If we represent the failures of US culture, we can be hard for US culture to look at. Yes, denial is easier than facing the facts: capitalism fails, violence and exploitation aren’t an ok plan, and Mother Earth isn’t a resource to use and pollute until there’s no more clean water, air, or soil.
My neighborhood and people like me are hard to look at because we’re proof that it’s not sustainable, to take and take. There’s no Planet B. Most people would rather pretend what they’re doing is ok.
Ming and I do radical mental health, street medics, works of mercy, interfaith peace, inter-dependence, disabled permaculture, and domestic nonviolence, trying to improve the bad scene we were born into. It’s a drop in the bucket, but we resist capitalism for fun. Anarchy means trying to heal culture as we can–taking that responsibility into our own hands, rather than waiting for someone else to do it.
Thank you for how you help the world also, and for thinking about trash and well-being of people such as myself.