Hello, how are you doing? Thinking a lot about racism lately. Racism in everyday life, disability, and in community.
Recently Ming needed some medication picked up for him in Las Vegas while we were traveling. The medication has little to no street value. But it’s a controlled substance because of repressive Drug War laws that probably do nothing to help people, but made someone look good long ago.
Pretending to protect everyone by making it harder for disabled people to get medications is a sad charade. But Ming has been wrestling with that injustice for years, and we know what to do.
Ming and I were trying to figure out who we know in Las Vegas who could pick up the medication for him. Because it’s a controlled substance, we needed to consider race and racism in who we asked to pick it up. One of our closest friends in Las Vegas is an anarchist and person of color. We knew we could not ask her, because they might give her a lot of trouble, when she showed up in all her powerful brown glory.
Trying to think of straight laced white people who could pick up Ming’s pills was depressing. We did think of a very upstanding citizen type white guy to ask, and he had no problem picking up Ming’s prescription. In fact, they didn’t even ask for his ID.
what is racism
Wow, they ask for Ming’s ID every time. Policies are policies, and they are enforced differently depending on how you look.
What is racism? Racism means genocide, cops killing Black people, a nuclear bomb tested on my peeps, colonization, and many horrific, explicit violences. It means being pushed out of jobs and schools, being paid less for the same work, and way more poverty.
But it also means wearing people down like Ming. He has to prove who he is with photo ID, just to pick up his monthly medication for narcolepsy. Struggles with health insurance, doctors, administrative assistants of doctors, pharmacy workers, shortages, recalls, errors by all of the above…. Having to dig out his driver’s license every time isn’t going to kill him, but as part of the tidal wave of fuckery that he has to endure as a disabled Person of Color, it just might.
Racism in community hurts a lot too. The permaculture farm where we stay right now has several people of color living here. That was refreshing to notice!
But the person who owns the farm is an old white guy, and the other few people who rule the farm are white also. The Black and Indigenous people here seem to the side, banded together on one edge of the property.
I would much prefer to live in a community where people of color help run the place. Ming recently started to bottom line caring for the chickens. If we stay here, Ming might work his way into a position of power, as Chicken Monarch. Maybe he’ll get more and more responsibility, and with that power might come too. Who knows.
An intentional community we’ve been looking at in Oregon has an internship program with four main possible paths. I looked at the website, and all four of them, the supervisor has a bio and pic–all of the supervisors look like white men in their 40s.
Wow, so depressing. Doing community and trying to make a better world, but all of the people with power are white men? Dang! Not even one of them could be a person of color or a woman?
Maybe things have changed and the website hasn’t been updated. But I would be deeply embarrassed, if that was my org. In marketing pics of the group, a few people of color are there. Maybe it was like–hurry up, a Black person is here for once! Make sure they’re in the picture!
I’m grateful that Ming and I are blessed with so much goodness in our lives. What gifts we have, so many bright friends, and the love of Mother Earth and our ancestors.
But racism is like a tide to swim against that’s so exhausting. It’s hard to be disabled, keep caring for our bodies and eating delicious meals, maintain a place to live, do the laundry, stay joyful. Racism in the mix is a huge, broad stressor that some people don’t have to think about, and some people think about all day, for survival.