Protesting ICE. JMPRO TV Community Media. Community Action.

We are advancing the world we want

These words have a purpose. They are a part of a chorus bringing us into collective liberation. We are singing in transformation through a myriad of actions.

My intention is to critically examine the status quo and, as importantly, to highlight things moving beyond it into a new paradigm. Finding the hope and joy amidst the crushing stuff. As an organizer friend said to me, “We are not only the resistance, we are the opposition.” We are advancing the world we want.

Protesting ICE. JMPRO TV Community Media. Community Action.
Protest outside the Henderson County courthouse on April 25. Photo by JMPRO TV.

As I shared in “Migration is Life,” for over a week ICE was in WNC wreaking havoc on the lives of many of our Latinx friends and neighbors. The community who rose up to offer support during this crisis is incredible. Kudos to CIMA, Nuestro Centro, WNC Sanctuary, JMPRO TV, and BeLoved House for their work. (Click any/all of those links to support the ongoing movement.) Shout out to all of the folks who volunteered. I cried every day with stress, and with the inspiration I got from the on the ground work and moments like the protest of the picnic that ICE held at the end of their run of terror. We are fighting the system while caring for each other.

Then the tragic triple murder suicide happened in West Asheville, causing pain for so many, particularly folks in the black community. Families are grieving Erica Smith, Harmony Smith, Keithan Whitmire, and Maurice Laron Garner. Children are scared. Hearts are hurting. How do we address the damage domestic violence does daily? How do we prevent it? What are we doing to dismantle patriarchy?

As we pursue answers to these questions, part of what we do offer support. In their weekly eNewsletter, Asheville SURJ suggested these steps:

“Meanwhile, keep SHOWING UP in the ways that you can. Because of these community tragedies, many leaders and activists are all the more deeply in the work and likely not having as much energy and time to attend to ongoing issues. If you haven’t been showing up to city meetings or other events, this might be a good time to add your much needed energy and presence. Our world is deeply broken. All our efforts are needed for the ongoing mending. What will you do?”

It’s the precious, fleeting time when the lilacs bloom in Asheville.

These terrible situations were an opportunity to assess my capacity to respond to community crisis. The justice work I am engaged in is steady and long term. It must also be flexible and responsive. I invite you to consider your ability to pivot when neighbors are in need. To have time, talent, and treasure which you are investing in ongoing community projects, while keeping a reserve of resources (including energy) to contribute during emergencies. Being proactive while also being prepared to support in moments of crisis. It’s a balance I am still refining.

Asheville Beer Culture
Sacred Cows. Cartoon by David Cohen.

In terms of the role of my writing, I am reflecting on the huge response to my Beer is a Bummer post as juxtaposed against these traumatic events. In a world where rogue federal agents shatter families with impunity, being able to spend time thinking about craft beer culture is a luxury. There are different worlds in our city. I am part of several. I dream of more connection, empathy, and reciprocity between them. 

While it may or may not have activated new community activists, hopefully my beer post stimulated insights and ideas towards constructive change. It certainly generated conversation, and conversation is crucial to cultural shifts. I’m here for the shift. 

Let’s keep talking.

On My Radar

Here are a few things you might find of value:

Can a poem be a form of resistance?” was written by Alli Marshall in response to “the story of Chikesia Clemons, who was assaulted at a Waffle House, by police, after requesting plasticware with a takeout order and having the audacity to protest an upcharge.” Her poem, “THE DESCENT For Chikesia Clemons,” is painfully powerful.

Earning our place on the planet,” a beautiful interview with adrienne maree brown by Joseph Scott Campbell for Longreads. Excerpt: “The main question for me with emergent strategy [is] how do we improve relationships with each other, as well as improve how we are in relationship to the planet. If we can do these two things, we may stand a chance of earning our place on the planet.”

Want to close achievement gaps, close the relationship gap,” wisdom from FakeEquity, with informed suggestions that are relevant to many institutions and organizations. Excerpt: “Your work and my work is simple and hard at the same time. We need to pay attention to race. We need to notice how race and relationships show up in our everyday interactions and in our systems.”

Desiree Adaway sent out an email sharing that “Ericka Hines and her colleagues at Equity in the Center and ProInspire released a guidebook they’ve spent close to two years developing. It’s called Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture and you can download it for free by clicking on that link.” It looks like a fantastic resource.

Want to connect in community? Check out my collaborative projects and the events posted on this calendar.


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