I want you to imagine a situation, where a coworker or family member clocks in at the beginning of the day, or arrives at a function. They appear tired yet jovial. As you ask them how they are you reach out to touch them, they recoil in pain. You then notice up close, bruises and lacerations. You ask if they are okay and they are resistant to answer.
Imagine that this person has been further victimized by others when asking for help, as they claim the abuser could not do such a thing, because ‘they just seem so nice… so attractive. After all, they are helping you financially.’ The abuser has integrated themselves into a particular environment and generated a particular benevolent character. Imagine that this abuser has withheld everything financially in order to assert control over the relationship. Imagine that the one being abused has children, and has little to no recourse, but to stay with the abuser. The alternate choice is houselessness. Imagine that they made moves to assert independence, and their plans were thwarted once discovered, and every time were beaten to the point of being hospitalized. Imagine this person filing a restraining order against the abuser, and having it consistently violated.
Now imagine this abused individual to be a country. Imagine the abuser to be another country. Now take your imagination and recognize this is reality.
We shall start with Cuba.
Imagine… No, don’t imagine- recognize. Recognize that in 1959, the masses of Cuba organized themselves against Fulgencio Batista, the U.S.-backed dictator. As a result, in 1960 the U.S. facilitated moves to establish a long-standing blockade, in existence to this day.
Control of access to food, medical supplies and other resources to a people experiencing starvation and sickness is a direct means to control a people. The countries (and allies) who enact sanctions occasionally end up providing ‘aid’ to said people. In addition to waging mass disinformation campaigns on a global scale, those who enacted the sanctions will end up looking like heroes and humanitarians, despite stepping in for the sole purpose of overthrowing a government.
Understanding this, now recognize that any country in resistance to relinquishing despite the stranglehold of a blockade is going to face even further retaliation.
It is easy to sympathize or empathize with someone experiencing the withholding of money, food, access to outside contact and other qualifications of abuse within individual interpersonal relationships. The person being abused is encouraged to seek escape. When it comes to geopolitics, those who experience these same things at the hands of imperialist abusers are further victimized, and we are constantly told that the people (or the government) did this to themselves. Those who seek asylum are turned away.
If you have, at any point in time said this about anywhere in the world that has a history of resistance to imperialist forces, both past and present- especially Cuba, go back and read the memo above. This was established by (the once ‘Supreme Commander’ of NATO) Eisenhower and his administration, and propped up by every proceeding administration.
Then go back and study how there is no distinct difference between democrats and republicans.
One cannot forget that Eisenhower had a few practice runs prior to the plans for the overthrow of the Cuban revolution, what with the CIA-backed coups in Iran (in 1953) and Guatemala (1954). What did Mohammed Mosaddeq of Iran do? Nationalize the oil. What did Jacobo Árbenz of Guatemala do? Gave support to the peasant class, through land reforms. As a result of the overthrows, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (aka the shah) and Carlos Castillo Armas were installed, leading authoritarian/dictatorial governments, a direct counter to the formerly democratically elected ones.
In light of all the news and conversation in regards to Ukraine, it’s important to note that again, there’s no distinction between republicans and democrats. Both parties work hard to usurp control from democratically elected governments. One need not look too far back to the year 2014, to see one of the major roots of why Ukraine is is in the position it’s currently in. A conversation between U.S. assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland and U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt has them strategizing how to oust democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovych, and listing their desired choices as a replacement. With the help of NATO, the U.S. got it’s wish to destabilize a nation.
i’m sure at this point you can figure out what happened as a result of the ousting of Yanukovych- and my guess is that, if you’ve been paying attention you guessed correctly. Reactionary factions were able to thrive amidst instability, and it maintains to this day. What did capitalist publications like the New York Times call them? Heroes. People wave Ukranian banners and flags without the understanding that many at the forefront of this movement are outright neo-nazis, and praise the name of Stepan Bandera. And of course, just like with all of the colonizers and enslavers in the U.S., Bandera has a street/boulevard named in honor of him in Kiev.
If you think the U.S. had no awareness of this, you would be incorrect. Both the U.S. and Israel contributed to funding, training and supplying weapons to the neo-nazi Azov Battalion.
In line with this, the reportage of current events lends much more sympathy to those in Ukraine (since they are deemed ‘European’), than those facing conditions of war in Yemen, Somalia, Palestine… or even the African and Indian populations in Ukraine. To add another level to this situation, Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian youth who was arrested in 2017 for battling an Israeli soldier in occupied West Bank, was demonized by many at the time. Photos of her have resurfaced, and she has been mislabeled as a Ukranian child. She obviously doesn’t look like a ‘traditional Palestinian’ in the eyes of those who currently humanize and praise her as a ‘brave’.
When you see capitalist governments and media sources waging propaganda campaigns against any anti-imperialist areas, calling any democratically elected officials ‘dictators’ and calling actual dictatorships ‘resistance movements’; think of the above document and the audio, and think about which regimes were supported by the imperialist west. The role of enacting sanctions is to create conditions so bad that the people of the country experiencing said sanctions will be dependent on you.
When the U.S. aims for Russia’s isolation, they decided to finally acknowledge Nicolas Maduro- a president considered to be a ‘dictator’ in their eyes, to the point where they have publicly stated that Juan Guaido (someone not elected by the majority of people in Venezuela) was the rightful president. Similar to what occurs with any enemies of western imperialism, claims of oil hoarding and purposeful food shortages at the expense of the people were concocted, as any propaganda listed neglects to address the effects of any sanctions imposed on Venezuela.
Juan González (Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs) states very matter-of-factly to the anti-people’s class ‘Voice Of America (VOA)’ network the Biden administration’s role in supporting sanctions for Russia.
In translation: “What has to be taken into account here is that the sanctions on Russia are so robust that they will have an impact on those governments that have economic affiliation with Russia, and that’s by design. So Venezuela is going to start to feel that pressure. Nicaragua is going to feel that pressure, as is Cuba. But ultimately what we want negotiated solutions to the crisis in Venezuela. We want the restoration of diplomatic order in Nicaragua. And we want the Cubans to be the ones to determine their future and not to be in a dictatorship, which is what we have been in for more than sixty years… (I)f you look at the sanctions on 13 financial institutions among the largest in Russia, that will have an impact on any government or business that has trade with these institutions, but also a lot of this money laundering and governments that operate outside of the international financial system will feel the squeeze based on these sanctions.”
So how does an imperialist country see negotiation? By applying force to get what it wants. ‘You don’t wanna deal with the U.S. dollar or the IMF? Well, we will deal with you.’
And if you don’t believe me, return to the first document, and listen to or read again what González is saying. Cubans DID determine their future in 1959, and continue to determine their future. However, it’s difficult to reach a full potential in determining that future with the boot of imperialism on your neck.
In case you need further proof of how the U.S. and its acronymed agencies continue to work in favor of overthrowing democratically elected governments, here’s a document discussing the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s involvement in Nicaragua.
In addition to what González stated, in line with capitalism’s role in expanding exploitation in order to achieve profits in short order; Chris Hedges notes, “General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon hit their 52 week highs. Because, of course, fueling a conflict in Ukraine, expanding NATO, this is good for business.”
Not only that, but it would also be beneficial to the interest of U.S. imperialism to increase military presence and NATO expansion all across Europe, as well as further the neocolonialist project across Africa.
Don’t believe me? Well… do you believe the words of Joe Biden in 1987?
‘Democracy’ under capitalism is always conditional and transactional. There’s this idea that the U.S. is working to ‘protect democracy’ around the world. But at what point do the masses around the world get to have an actual process and system of democracy, when NATO and the imperialist west are consistently dictating what political and economic systems should exist?
How does one who loves to emphasize ‘U.S.-based democracy’ explain the Reagan administration signing into law an approved $100 million in aid (plus weapons and training) for the Contras in Nicaragua, in order to overthrow the Sandinista government? If democracy is to be celebrated, why would Reagan wage a full on disinformation campaign about the Sandinista government being an extension of the USSR? The disinformation campaign continues to this day. How does one account for the National Security Decision Directive 17 (NSDD-17), where $19 million was allocated towards the CIA’s training of the Contras?
How does one defend the other September 11th… back in 1973? You know, the CIA-led assassination of (once again) democratically elected Socialist president Salvador Allende, thus prompting the dictatorship of (U.S. backed) Augusto Pinochet?
You saw the same patterns: CIA-backed reactionary/terrorist groups destroyed the infrastructure, in order to destabilize the economy and life of the Chilean masses. The command from Richard Nixon was to “make the economy scream.”
Here’s the ultimate question- one of the most basic of questions: even if you, after reading this still somehow, for some reason, think of socialism and communism as being the ultimate in evil; how would you defend in any way, one country stepping in and dictating how another country should be run? If you claim to support democracy, wouldn’t that also mean you support a country’s decision to determine its own destiny?
Would you advocate for others stepping in and determining the destiny of a person who is escaping an abusive relationship, without the abused person’s input?
So imagine… and then recognize that the abused partner is experiencing the same things as the masses of those experiencing the effects of imperialism and (neo)colonialism. And they have fought, and continue to organize and fight for self determination.
The police are the same way… They put their club upside your head, and then turn around and accuse you of attacking them. Every case of police brutality against a Negro follows the same pattern. They attack you, bust you all upside your mouth, and then take you to court and charge you with assault. What kind of democracy is that??!!
You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.
The way they pull you over it’s suspicious Yeah, for something that just ain’t your fault If you complain they’re gonna get vicious Kick you in the teeth and charge you with assault Yeah, but I can see the chickens coming home to roost Young people everywhere are gonna cook their goose Lots of kids are working to get rid of these blues ‘Cause everybody’s sick of the American ruse
i have been (slowly) working on several blog entries before this one; however, i wanted this particular subject to have its own entry.
i’ve been receiving several calls, texts and e mails, concerned about me in the midst of all of the uprisings going on. When people ask me (in general) how i am doing, my answer tends to be, “i am doing the best i can in the midst of capitalism.” When people are asking if i am okay in the midst of the uprisings, my response is, “i am never going to be okay as long as capitalism is alive.” Both responses are variations of the same subject: capitalism is the root cause of any struggles in existence for the masses. HOW the masses respond is crucial.
i am open in saying that i support the global uprisings happening. That said, as organized as the system of capitalism is, guarantee that it’s 200 steps ahead of those who are out in the streets. It’s a system based on exploitation, inequity and inhumanity, and it continues to develop, based on technological and informational advances. We must remember that the only constant is change. Humans are increasingly beginning to recognize the illusions presented to them about a system (many centuries old) based on their exploitation. The only response is going to be to rise up against the illusions. As it should be. This is why it is crucial to have an organized a response to the illusions.
This morning I woke up in a curfew; O God, I was a prisoner, too – yeah! Could not recognize the faces standing over me; They were all dressed in uniforms of brutality. Eh!
-Burnin’ And Lootin’, The Wailers
Dealing with the condition itself is not enough. And it is because of our effort toward getting straight to the root that people ofttimes think that we’re dealing in hate.
We are oppressed! We are exploited! We are downtrodden! We are denied- not only civil rights, but even human rights. So the only way we’re going to get some of this oppression and exploitation away from us or aside from us is come together against the common enemy.
-Malcolm X (May 20, 1962, after the murder of Ronald Stokes by the police)
i do not watch videos of police violence upon our bodies…. Just as i did not watch the torture and murder of Muammar Ghaddafi. Capitalism replays these videos over and over again (via news programs and social media) to keep us in a loop of trauma. We stay in this loop feeling tired and helpless, asking ‘What do we do? They keep killing us!’ We continue to protest every time it happens, and the cycle continues. History will always inform us of the solution. Political education will inform us of the reasons.
The story will always be the same: the police decide to be the judge, jury and executioner when it comes to the lives of African, Indigenous, poor and other marginalized communities. A man (George Floyd) was murdered for allegedly making a purchase with a counterfeit $20. Only under capitalism is someone ‘deserving’ of physical death because of something a cashier could have marked and refused, if the bill was actually counterfeit. Having been a cashier at one point in my life i can tell you that counterfeit bills get detected once in a while. Not once have i or any of my coworkers felt an urge to phone the cops when the marker emits brown or black ink, as opposed to the yellowish ink that signifies a ‘proper’ bill. We just told people that the bill was counterfeit, and asked if they had another bill to replace it.
As Mr. Floyd was still directly outside of the store, the co-owner (Mahmoud Abumayyaleh) or cashier who interacted with him could have mentioned the bill was counterfeit. It’s highly likely he was not aware, which does happen. The cashier calling the cops (which is store protocol at Cup Foods, apparently) is not the focus though, nor should it be. A man is gone at the hands of the police, while Bernard Lawrence Madoff still gets to walk, despite participating in one of the largest Ponzi schemes in the world.
There’s a slight irony in the whole current situation: kneeling historically has been known to represent some sort of deference, in a religious or cultural sense. In more recent times it primarily represents protest. When Colin Kaepernick publicly ‘took a knee’ in protest of police terrorism upon African people, it was a division among ideological and political lines. These lines are STILL occurring. As well-meaning as people who support (the intention of) the protests are, the request for the masses to ‘not meet violence with violence’ is still upholding property over people… Or in the words of MLK, these are the people who say “‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’; (people) who paternalistically believe(s) he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom.” The point of mass protests SHOULD be to disrupt capitalism.
The white liberal must rid himself of the notion that there can be a tensionless transition from the old order of injustice to the new order of justice…. The Negro has not gained a single right in America without persistent pressure and agitation….
Nonviolent coercion always brings tension to the surface. This tension, however, must not be seen as destructive. There is a kind of tension that is both healthy and necessary for growth. Society needs nonviolent gadflies to bring its tensions into the open and force its citizens to confront the ugliness of their prejudices and the tragedy of their racism.
It is important for the liberal to see that the oppressed person who agitates for his rights is not the creator of tension. He merely brings out the hidden tension that is already alive. Last Summer when we had our open housing marches in Chicago, many of our white liberal friends cried out in horror and dismay: “You are creating hatred and hostility in the white communities in which you are marching, You are only developing a white backlash.” I could never understand that logic. They failed to realize that the hatred and the hostilities were already latently or subconsciously present. Our marches merely brought them to the surface….
– Martin Luther King Jr. (Where Do We Go from Here – Chaos or Community?)
And I came to see that so many people who supported morally and even financially what we were doing in Birmingham and Selma, were really outraged against the extremist behavior of Bull Connor and Jim Clark toward Negroes, rather than believing in genuine equality for Negroes. And I think this is what we’ve got to see now, and this is what makes the struggle much more difficult.
And this leads me to say something about another discussion that we hear a great deal, and that is the so-called “white backlash.” I would like to honestly say to you that the white backlash is merely a new name for an old phenomenon. It’s not something that just came into being because of shouts of Black Power or because Negroes engaged in riots in Watts, for instance. The fact is that the state of California voted a fair housing bill out of existence before anybody shouted Black Power or before anybody rioted in Watts.
It may well be that shouts of Black Power and riots in Watts and the Harlems and the other areas are the consequences of the white backlash rather than the cause.
What it is necessary to see is that there has never been a single solid monistic determined commitment on the part of the vast majority of white Americans on the whole question of Civil Rights and on the whole question of racial equality. This is something that truth impels all men of good will to admit.
Let me say as I’ve always said and I will always continue to say that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. I’m still convinced that nonviolence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice. I feel that violence will only create more social problems than they will solve. That in a real sense it is impractical for the Negro to even think of mounting a violent revolution in the United States. So I will continue to condemn riots and continue to say to my brothers and sisters that this is not the way. And continue to affirm that there is another way… But at the same time, it is as necessary for me to be as vigorous in condemning the conditions which cause persons to feel that they must engage in riotous activities as it is for me to condemn riots. I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard.
And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity.
And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.
– Martin Luther King Jr. (The Other America, April 14, 1967)
Derek Chauvin is but one individual. He ‘took a knee’ (and took an African’s life) in honor of all the cops who could not. To singularly focus on and protest the case of George Floyd/Breonna Taylor/etc.’s murder (and to focus only on police terrorism at all) is still going to present MORE Chauvins. The increase in uprisings is going to produce policies which will enact mild reforms in order to squelch ongoing mass dissent, and people will see it as a ‘step forward’ amidst increases of an even larger surveillance state and national militaristic strategies. After all, Chauvin was arrested and charged (of course only with 3rd degree murder– a rare ‘feat’, as cops are rarely arrested and charged). Then there’s this:
Remember that capitalism is 200 steps ahead. You cannot ‘take a knee’ in honor of someone who was murdered by the very system you remain silent about every other day. This is the organized deception it’s crucial to look out for. If police are supposed to be seen as ‘protectors’ or upholders of the law, wouldn’t that tell you the laws don’t serve the interests of the people? If cops are supposed to be so beneficial, why are they globally viewed as the enemy by workers and peasants? Why would it suddenly be accepted that their being in the streets marching and ‘taking a knee’ serves as anything other than to divert attention?
The role of the police is to protect private property and prevent mass uprisings– there is no other way around it. There is no such thing as a ‘good cop,’ or a ‘bad/good apple.’ You make a conscious decision to put on the uniform or badge, you make the decision to protect capitalism. These cops people claim are good usually remain silent in response to state-sanctioned violence. There are ‘nice individuals’ who happen to be cops. These ‘nice’ people are still employed to be the enemies of the people. However, this is not what i am addressing. A focus on individuals is a distraction from addressing the system in which policing is founded. Though police are working-class individuals, they make the decision every single day to work against the best interests of the people. There are people with good intentions who sign up to be a cop in order to ‘change things from the inside…‘ We see every day how this turns out. You CANNOT reform a system which is based on the system of violence against the bodies of marginalized and oppressed peoples. You cannot reform a system which assures that class inequities are upheld.
Let’s not get it twisted- humans in the U.S. still fall under ‘private property.’ Humans are still enslaved- i mean, McGraw Hillknows what’s up. Capitalism had to evolve as well, based on the fact that humans constantly revolt against their subjugation. Capitalist governments don’t introduce human rights laws based on some moral compass. Mass uprisings occurred in response to the exploitation of child labor, of the 12+ hour work day… So labor laws and the 8-hour day was established as a means to satiate that desire for job/life balance. However, because capitalism be capitalismin’ costs of living have increased, yet wages have not. The masses still have to have jobs in order to cover basic material needs. Educational institutions under capitalism function in the same way: education is said to be ‘the great equalizer,’ and yet schools are funded in accordance to map location. Schools are defunded and funded according to students’ test scores, ignoring the class inequities which contribute to the results of the scores. Teachers who come in dehumanizing African and poor students are the ones scoring the tests and papers. The school to prison pipeline is a reality many students face; and under capitalism, the role of an educational institution is to prepare you to never question authority, and to continue to unquestioningly ‘clock in and clock out.’
The day i write this piece (May 31, 2020) is the 10th ‘commemoration’ of the murder by the Israeli military of unarmed peace activists on the Mavi Marmara, one of the six ‘Gaza Freedom Flotilla’ ships. It is crucial to recognize that police terrorism is interconnected- it can never be observed myopically. If policing falls in line with upholding and perpetuating capitalist interests we should never make the mistake of thinking it happens in a bubble, or just to our singular communities. The links (two out of many are here and here) between Israel and the U.S. police are nothing to ignore. It would behoove those who don’t recognize that the Palestinian struggle for land and self-determination is not separate for the African fight for liberation and self-determination (and land!!!) to also study why this is the case.
Exhibits A, B, C and D:
Sanctions occur in both the U.S. and outside of it. In the course of this current pandemic, we see how sanctions (on Zimbabwe, Iran, Venezuela, Syria and more) have prevented medical, food and other supplies from reaching the people. Sanctions exist for marginalized and colonized communities in the U.S., via educational, medical, housing, food, electrical, sanitation, and economic inequities. The government places drugs in a community (or looks the other way in the face of a natural disaster), waits for said community to be ‘uninhabitable’ to realtors (who don’t have an income if they don’t sell or fill up ‘property’); then developers come in and contribute to pricing out longtime residents. Gentrification is the localized version of an imperialist takeover.
From the Negro Seaman’s Act to the current wave of curfews, African bodies in the U.S. (and the world) have always been policed, so as to curtail uprisings. And as usual, executives and the bourgeoisie are doubly running scared, as their ‘way of life’ is being disrupted- first, due to the pandemic, secondly due to the uprisings. There are now many calls to read books about ‘racism in America’; there’s feigned concerns for the voices of African employees. If the CNN headquarters were not targeted, would this response happen? How about this one from Amazon- the same union-busting company that sells facial recognition software to the very police who contribute to that “inequitable and brutal treatment of (African) people”?
The bourgeoisie is also singling out the current administration’s reaction to Mr. Floyd’s murder (and the uprisings which have ensued), as if Donald Trump is the only U.S. president to support a system of white supremacy. One of the many arbitors of white supremacist policies, Joseph Biden, is calling for a “restraint” from violence in the uprisings, as he and other neoliberal politicians remain silent amidst the violence of Zionism, the violence of the prison industrial complex, and the violence of capitalism in and of itself. Not only is Biden playing up the sympathy in relation to the state-sanctioned violence upon African people for political gain, it’s clear from the myopic outrage based on one statement out of the wholly condescending interview with Charlemagne (who has his own problematic histories with colorism, misogynoir, assault jokes and more), that people are actually not aware of his political history. As Margaret Kimberley wrote in 2017, “It is an error to be swept up in useless argument about whether the current president is a white supremacist without also discussing the racist underpinnings of American society.”
“In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no ‘two evils’ exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say.”
– W.E.B. DuBois
He was not or never had been in favor Of letting us vote so u c… Abraham Lincoln was a racist who said “U cannot escape from history”
-Prince Rogers Nelson
Kimberley, author of Prejudential: Black America And The Presidents, also wrote:
“We had a white supremacist nation even when the president was black. Barack Obama was indeed the more effective evil. He is now proving it by doing what former presidents always do. He is lining his pockets giving speeches to the banksters who stole what little wealth black people had managed to earn. But he had better manners than the erratic and, yes, bigoted Donald Trump and he went out of his way to make nice even as he worked to enhance the neo-liberal and imperialist projects.
Obama never prosecuted killer cops or thieving bank executives. He destroyed Libya, Africa’s most prosperous nation. But white racists still hated him and he benefited from their animus. They gave him the Teflon coating that Trump can only dream about.”
Keep Ms. Kimberley’s words in mind when reading Obama’s statement regarding the murder of George Floyd- the same Obama who has supported and funded increased militarization of the police during his administration. Capitalism understands that people are reactionary. Capitalism understands that we are conditioned to resist the intense study of these policies, which are an exacerbation of past ones. Capitalism understands that if you put in a president that’s so bad, you’ll forget that the last one was just as bad. This is also the same Obama who represented MLK’s concerns about ‘white liberals’ dictating how Africans should protest:
“As a general rule, I think that what, for example, Black Lives Matter is doing now to bring attention to the problem of a criminal justice system that sometimes is not treating people fairly based on race, or reacting to shootings of individuals by police officers, has been really effective in bringing attention to problems… One of the things I caution young people about, though, that I don’t think is effective is once you’ve highlighted an issue and brought it to people’s attention and shined a spotlight, and elected officials or people who are in a position to start bringing about change are ready to sit down with you, then you can’t just keep on yelling at them,”
Has any true victory of the people been won by compromising with an immoral capitalist power structure?
As the focus is on Trump’s description of protesters as ‘thugs,’ lest we forget, Obama also called those who rose up in Baltimore “criminals” and “thugs.” He actually stopped himself from completing the word ‘protesters’ to do it. He also utilized similar pathologies framed by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
While Obama, Trump and many others give negative connotations to ‘looting’ (when it comes to mass protest); people generally ignore that the very foundation of the U.S. is looting.
A racial analysis cannot be had without a class analysis, and vice versa. The refusal of unionized bus drivers (most recently in NYC and Minneapolis) to assist police in transporting protesters is nothing new, however it is a major example of why an intersectional analysis cannot be ignored. The reason why Africans continue to be recipients of state violence in ways which are holdovers from legalized ‘classical’ enslavement is because the forced labor as we’ve been conditioned to know it is no longer ‘acceptable’. However, capitalism and the exploitation and subjugation of African bodies (all over the world) never ceased. We’re not dying fast enough for them collectively, partly due to the so-called ‘Emancipation proclamation’ (signed by white supremacist Abraham Lincoln). Hence, there are a disproportionate number of Africans in jails and prisons for non-violent offenses; unarmed Africans are affected by no-knock raids and gunned down by police without question; economic sanctions prevail in the hood, and and people continue to act as if the Moynihan Report (which ultimately looks as if Biden has worshiped at the feet of it) is some bearer of truth about the African family structure.
Long rap about no knock bein’ legislated For the people you’ve always hated In this hell hole that you, we, call home
No knock, the man will say To keep that man from beating his wife No knock, the man will say To protect people from themselves No knockin’, head-rockin’, inter-shockin’ Shootin’, cussin’, killin’, cryin’, lyin’ And bein’ white No knock
No knocked on my brother Fred Hampton Bullet holes all over the place No knocked on my brother Michael Harris And jammed a shotgun against his skull
– Gil Scott-Heron
Who’s watching the watcher? Tell me who’s keeping an eye On those who claim to be keepers Sitting safe with their view from the sky Who is watching their morals Tell me who says they’re okay Oh, won’t you tell me who is gonna protect us When it’s a watchman’s holiday
– Nona Hendryx/LaBelle
But I thrive to survive, I pray to God to stay alive My attitude boils inside And that ain’t it, you think I’ll every quit Still I pray to get my hands around The neck of the man wit’ the whip 3 months pass, they brand a label on my ass To signify, owned I’m on the microphone
Sayin’ 1555, how I’m livin’ We been livin’ here Livin’ ain’t the word I been givin’ Haven’t got Classify us in the have-nots Fightin’ haves ‘Cause it’s all about money
There are many Africans (in particular) who have been dreading having ‘the talk’ with their children. The ‘talk’ has had many iterations: the doll test/colorism, draconian drug laws, police terrorism… While it’s crucial to speak with children about these matters as a means to prepare them for the world that sees them as less than sentient; one thing that’s missing from the conversation is the why. It’s not enough to tell a child to ‘pull your pants up, always keep your hands up, never raise your voice,’ or all of these other means of respectability just to survive. Is a society which sees us as less than human, and only as a means to siphon labor from something to be respected? People eventually get tired, and they will fight back.
And make no mistake- capitalism will use this as another opportunity to profit off of trauma. Families get torn apart, and it will be played 24/7 on news cycles. It honestly would not be surprising if the protests are being encouraged/accepted as a means of increasing the spread of SARS CoV-2/Covid-19 (especially among African communities) and stating this spread as the reason to extend lockdowns/curfews… but with even MORE surveillance. Facial recognition technology has already been developed to deal with the wearing of masks.
When the masses resist, capitalism has already planned the response. It needs to for its survival.
“Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. You don’t need anything else.”
― Malcolm X
We call their names, in remembrance and in protest:
John Crawford III
Abner Louima (who lived to tell the story)
El Hajj Malik El Shabazz
All MOVE organizers
Martin Luther King Jr.
And the millions more, named and unnamed
We call on the names of those who did not physically survive terror upon our collective bodies, minds and spirits… We call on the names of those who have been targeted, tortured and assassinated under the system of U.S. and European imperialism. But it’s not enough to speak their names. How will we HONOR their names?
There’s only one solution.
All of the concerned calls, texts and e mails i’m getting are very nice; however, the system has been the same towards African and other colonized and marginalized peoples in all of the 42 years i’ve been on this earth. If one is concerned for me as a result of what is currently happening, there can only be one response. It may not be the answer people want right now, but it is the answer people need. JOIN AN ORGANIZATION WORKING TOWARDS JUSTICE AND LIBERATION!!!
It wasn’t until we walked up to the microphones at the karaoke joint, when we realized Thank You For Being A Friend (aka ‘The Golden Girls’ theme) was a full song.
We were set to sing the version we knew… until we saw another part to the first verse. i am old enough to be aware of the song (as i was alive during the song’s initial release- 1978); having seen the credits of ‘The Golden Girls’ time and time again, i even knew Andrew Gold was credited to be the songwriter. Still, i (and my friend, and many others around the world) had no idea this song we cherished for ourselves had a further set of lyrics, charting one’s sincerity and gratitude towards another person. The lyrics are simple yet crucial at a time where popular songs center romantic love (or flat out lust) as a goal to attain. The song, without describing the gender of said ‘friend’, potentially challenges the socially accepted notion that ‘men and women cannot be friends’. While ideally, a friendship should develop before building on something romantic (as you need a foundation to stand on before you can build the rest of a structure); again, most popular songs about ‘love’ center only the romantic (or lustful) type.
So… My friend and i sang away, immediately catching on to the structure of this rendition we had no familiarity with (outside of the abridged version), and cherished our moment. i would also come to have laughs with friends about some of the gospel renditions i would send.
(On a side note: ‘The Golden Girls’ historically was one of those shows which resonated with varied groups of people, but the prominent voices who vocalized their approval were older women (who are usually not represented in popular culture as having an independent voice) and the LGBTQ+ communities. Many people also took note of the comic timing of the show, as well as the (at the time (and still in some cases)) controversial subject matter. The sexual agency of older women, gay marriage and racism/prejudice were a few of many subjects explored on the show, and few shows to this day explore these subjects in a way which resonate.)
It has been in more recent times where i returned to the song. A sisterfriend and i were discussing Andrew Gold’s original version the other day, and upon listening to it i began to cry.
And when we both get older With walking canes and hair of gray Have no fear, even though it’s hard to hear I will stand real close and say, Thank you for being a friend
Living amongst so much trauma, drama and depression as of late, it’s been even more isolating because for the most part i do not have my closest friends here with me. Though we talk on the phone amongst the geographical and time differences- and i am thankful this is able to happen… Not being able to give and receive hugs (and i love hugs!); not being able to laugh at or analyze/dissect bad movies late at night; not being able to have long conversations about political issues; to go roller skating and help each other get up when we fall, to have code words and sentences only we know, to sing songs with at the karaoke joint, to watch each other grow… It gets a bit lonely, so i began to cry.
Increasingly, the concept of ‘friendship’ appears to be shifting. Prior to social media you had the concept of the ‘pen pal’; Looking forward to receiving a letter in the mail was one of the highlights of the day. Sometimes you would even go to visit each other. The word ‘friend’ gets used lightly, or in a cavalier fashion in this day and age, particularly with the use of social media. People are ‘friends’ based on a limited connection; however, with some exceptions people do not seem to build relationships with each other outside of that. Popularity is judged based on how many ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ one has. There are times when a person is introduced as a ‘friend’ in social circles, yet the person doing the introductions cannot remember the ‘friend’s’ name.
My ideas about friendship have always been based on the ‘classic’ definition: someone you could confide in, someone you could be vulnerable to, someone who will hold you accountable without being judgmental… When you are young you think you are going to have all of the same friends for the rest of your life. When this doesn’t happen you may ask a lot of questions of yourself; and just as this happens you gain a new series of friends (with a couple left over from the last part of your journey). The cycle continues, and the people you once shared a closeness to have encountered new parts of their own journeys. We all grow older; some of them get married, become parents, begin careers, change interests… There are times along this journey where you may feel alone. Every single person you contact is unavailable. Some of them stop speaking to you for unknown reasons.
Holding on to the more ‘classic’ definition of what a friend is can be incredibly frustrating. While relationships like this can, and still do exist; i had to re-explore what this actually means, given my current set of experiences and circumstances. Where i am, nothing is the same as it was… At all. The first time i experienced this feeling was when one of my best friends, Barry, left this earth on February 4, 2011. He left this earth at the same age i will be this year. He was my rock. Our late-night conversations always grounded me. He pushed me to be my best creative self. He was loved by so many people in his respective communities. He was a father, an artist, a multi-instrumentalist… a friend.
To this day, i have difficulty listening to his voice, or even looking at him. i have audio of us talking, and i cannot listen to it. Despite posting the video above, i cannot look at him. i avoid thinking about him, because it still hurts. While i acknowledge one’s physical transition to be another aspect of their journey; while i acknowledge that his relationship to me served a very specific purpose in my life (in a spiritual sense); while i have acknowledged his not physically being here, something still feels very out of place for me, and i have yet to figure out what this is. i have had some people in my life whom i’ve been close to leave this earth, and he is the only person i have not been able to move past. Something in my life feels unfinished with him.
Shortly before his transition i had been trying to contact him for some time, and i had not heard back from him. He was one of the busiest people i knew, but it was strange to not get one of his late-night calls after i’d get out of my job. When i heard of his transition (from a mutual friend at the time, on social media no less) i felt paralyzed. i didn’t particularly feel a need to find out any of the details (even though i did find out). i did briefly communicate with his daughters after the transition; there were also people he was close to who contacted me, letting me know he talked about me a lot. i didn’t have an interest in searching for information about any viewings or homegoing ceremonies. He was one of my best friends but i felt disconnected from it all.
Given that i’ve acknowledged his not physically being here, i don’t consider it to be a denial stage. i still feel that paralyzing feeling when i think about him though.
Holding on to the ‘classic’ definition can be limiting, not only because it potentially holds on to this illusion of permanence; but the concept of ‘friendship’ also tends to shift in light of how ‘friends’ are viewed in other aspects of our lives. Though my mother lives close to me (and as we’ve gotten older developed a friendship), our relationship is going to be different, based on the mother/daughter dynamic. Many who believe in the existence of a higher power (or God) would consider a relationship with God to be a friendship, despite never having physically met, or even knowing what this one they consider a friend looks like. When cats and dogs (and other non-humans) are adopted, they are immediately considered by some to be friends or companions (or even babies), despite being a different species (and having different sets of communication tools) as a human. The concept of ‘friendship’ makes sense when looking at God or a furry companion as a source of comfort.
In more recent times, how i identify ‘friendship’ has shifted. Given that my closest friends are not physically here, this shift has become a necessity. A few days ago i was riding my bicycle, and i saw a man taking pictures of the New Jersey skyline; his graying hair balding in the center of his scalp. Never having met before, we exchanged hellos as we passed each other, and he said “It’s nice to see you,” with a stark familiarity. i do not know if he imagined that he knew me, or if he felt the same unknown familiarity. Were we instant friends? No. Still, i am learning not to question such things. It’s like when a baby smiles back at you, or begins to wave hello (or goodbye) 20 seconds after you did so. In these brief moments of unknown familiarity lies a sense of comfort, in a place where you experience trauma and isolation… In a place where you feel like a stranger. i really do think the universe sends us situations and random people to remind us of our humility.
i was in midtown Manhattan on my bicycle, at a stoplight. Being in a state of limbo (a state i am still experiencing, honestly- financial, emotional and more), a beautiful Rasta or Roots woman walked towards my direction. We exchanged silent glances, as if to say ‘hello.’ She continued to walk, still looking at me, and the only words she said were “Stand firm.” i nodded my head and placed my hands over my heart, indicating thanks. i marveled at this comment. Is this something she’s said to others? What was her perception of me, for her to recognize where i was at? The funny thing is, i had not even reached the most stressful part of this journey at that point, so it was clear her intuition was strong.
There have been so many ‘tiny’ experiences to receive joy from, and that moment was simply, one of many i placed in my back pocket of precious moments. Soon enough, those two words would make more sense than any two words i’ve heard in a long time. This woman was a true friend. She taught me a major lesson.
i am in the most challenging place in my life i’ve ever been (and i have been through many), and while it looks as if i will never see the end of these challenges, i know like anything else, these challenges will pass. Do i wish i knew when it will all pass? To be honest, of course! Not knowing causes major anxiety. Being in an emotional, spiritual, economic and political battle all at once is enough to place someone in a constant state of anxiety.
Live clean, let your works be seen, Stand firm, or go feed worm.
In the end, your actions are going to convey your true character. At the same time, the words you speak (or sometimes, the music you listen to or images you watch) are going to bring either life or death to a situation. What you are willing to fight and advocate for is going to convey that life or that death. Every day, so many of us are beaten down (spiritually, economically, politically), we end up battling each other, and not the very systems which beat us all down. And there is that one person who, out of the blue, in that moment of desperation… reminds us to stand firm.
In the absence of your closest friends, other friends exist in the briefest moments. i am still learning not to question it.
Thank you for being a friend.
Image: Young Friends Looking Happy And Posing For Camera, Creative Commons
My mother read the first entry from this blog. i went to visit her yesterday, and she mentioned to me that i should be a writer.
This means a lot to me, coming from my mother. i honestly do not know what has held me back all of these years, because certainly i love to write. it’s one of the things which calms me; and i am a much better communicator in this medium than i am verbally (though i also do video commentaries)… It’s not even the work/job conflation that holds me back. Then again, it is.
i still have difficulty seeing that something i love to do could be a ‘potential business opportunity.’ You see articles everywhere saying, ‘make money off your blog!’, or ‘increase your brand’… While i would LOVE to not have to clock in at a job, i (once again) do not have an entrepreneurial spirit. i still want to be free to be able to do work without meeting quick deadlines, or dealing with overhead. Somehow, i cannot see past that part.
It’s only in the past few months where i began shifting the idea of myself as a writer. Whenever people would ask if i were a writer, i’d tell them “i like to write.” i was uncomfortable with the title of writer, just as i was uncomfortable with the title of artist, despite studying photography in college (a student of the great Roy DeCarava (RIP)- we would have several conversations about our love for jazz. One thing he told me, i will never forget. i asked him if a piece i was working on was any good. He asked me if it was something i would hang on my own wall. After i told him yes, he said, “then it is a good photo.”)
Despite the many years of painting i’ve done; despite all the collages, the picture books, the fanzines (yes, i’ve done those too), the text for comics, the drawing for most of my tattoos, the public access television, the playing in bands, the songwriting, creation of music recordings… i have had trouble with calling myself an artist, a musician or a writer. Despite doing all of these things, i had difficulty with the concept of ownership of these things- linking it all to the concept of a brand. The anticapitalist in me (since the age of 15) wanted to share my works with people, without thinking of… overhead. ‘Major’ projects i have done were used to donate money to different organizations.
One thing i’ve learned though, is that it is crucial to think dialectically, and not to speak lack or loss into the universe. While a profit motive is not the main goal, simultaneously, to say “no, i am not an artist- i just make art” is minimizing my own power to reach people in the way i want to. i have had several people in my life who encouraged me to not give up writing; but it was Lorraine Hansberry who contributed to the altering of how i saw myself as a writer.
It wasn’t just her ability to convey narratives that reflected realities of many people of African descent; it was the ideological conversations she had with herself (and others) that were the impetus for said narratives. She developed an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist analysis that fueled her work.
Of course, anyone doing this kind of work (of creating art, or even organizing around it) has mulled over the contradictions at some point. That would be impossible NOT to do in a capitalist society. One of the many things she asked in her journal writings was “Do I remain a revolutionary? Intellectually – without a doubt. But am I prepared to give my body to the struggle or even my comforts?… Comfort has come to be its own corruption.”She also said of herself, if her health were to improve she looked at traveling to the South to organize amidst the turmoil, “to find out what kind of revolutionary I am.”
The great Nina Simone (who of course was inspired by Lorraine Hansberry, as Lorraine Hansberry was inspired by Langston Hughes) spoke of these same contradictions. She once said, “We don’t know anything about ourselves. We don’t even have the pride and the dignity of African people. We can’t even talk about where we came from. WE DON’T KNOW!” In another interview she stated: “My job is to somehow make (African people) curious enough… persuade them, by hook or crook, to get more aware of themselves and where they came from, and what they are into, and what is already there… Just to bring it out. This is what compels me to compel them. And i will do it by whatever means necessary.”
She also says in the same interview that the work she does “completely takes all (her) energy, unfortunately”; however, because she recognizes the magnitude of this work by acknowledging the “kids who come backstage afterwards, who want to talk or who are moved… Sometimes they are moved to tears…” She took time out despite being tired, “perhaps to hear some of their grievances, or just to make them feel that they’re not alone.” She adds, “The most important thing is, they are our future! It’s an investment, as far as I’m concerned. When I invest time in young people from colleges, I know that I’m gonna get that bread back. You know, bread cast upon the water comes back. Because when i see ’em doing their thing one day, and I’m too old to do anything but sit and look at them I’m gonna say, well, I was part of that.” She saw it as her, and other artists’ “duty to reflect the times… How can you be an artist and NOT reflect the times?”
Lorraine Hansberry speaks of the same sentiments. Amidst her illness, she stopped to visit a group of young people who won a national writing contest: “I wanted to be able to come here and speak with you on this occasion; because you are young, gifted and Black. In the year 1964, I for one can think of no more dynamic combination that a person might be. Look at the work that awaits you; write if you will. But write about the world as it is, and as you think it ought to be and must be. Work hard at it. Care about it. Write about our people. Tell their story.”
In terms of the contradictions, Nina Simone said: “if I had my way, I’d’ve been a killer. I would’ve had guns, and i would’ve gone to the South and gave ’em violence for violence; shotgun for shotgun… if I had my way. But my husband told me I didn’t know anything about guns; he used to teach me. And the only thing I had was music, so I obeyed him. But if I had my way… I wouldn’t be sitting here today. I’d be probably dead (her emphasis) somewhere, because i would have used guns during those years. I was never a nonviolent person.” She would have discovered what kind of revolutionary she was, had her husband not discouraged her. The contradictions (and evidences of misogyny) definitely lie there, in that such a strong-willed woman was coerced (or forced) by her husband to not fight for her people, or against injustice in the matter she wished to.
This was not unlike what happened with Lorraine Hansberry. Her husband colluded with doctors and others, to not inform her of the magnitude of her diagnosis, exacerbating her inability to heal in ways she most likely could have, had she been informed.
To be able to fuel my art (whatever form i take on) as a means of reaching and inspiring people (as well as myself) is work; and i do not have to perceive it as a burden (or a job) to get a message out, based on whatever analysis i have about the society i live in. If i am to truly stand on the shoulders of these two phenomenal women (who are also ancestors); if i am to continue the mission they sought out to do in terms of their creative journey, i have to alter how i look at what i do.
i am a writer.
A human that has the capacity to receive love, and to love back.
Some things don’t need explaining, but there is a reason.
This is the third (and a half) blog site i have decided to do. The title of this blog (Overjobbed and Underworked) came out of a group of ideas i wanted to collaborate with folks on, podcast wise… i still aim to develop a podcast out of this as blogging, wonderful as it is, still carries limited capabilities for expression.
In a conversation, when asked what we do, the question usually refers to occupation or vocation- what one does in order to pay bills/rent/mortgage. In other words, “What do you do for a living?” the fact that many of us are conditioned to associate being able to put money towards a roof over our heads as ‘living’ has always troubled me. The fact that people look at working 50, 60 (or more) hours a week as a status symbol has always troubled me, particularly when evidence of the toll on one’s health and mental stability due to working that many hours is highly documented. The fact that people around the world don’t have the means of basic quality of life- and you have to work massive amounts of hours just to attain that- has always troubled me.
Having a job where you are not paid your worth (and the people at the top make triple the amount you do), where you are not able to make collective decisions about your own position; when you are at the mercy of management or supervisors; where your contributions or ideas are not valued; and you do it all just to be so tired at the end of the job’s day, you don’t feel like doing anything but watching television… This is not living. Living is not a person who just gave birth having to return back to their job, not being able to spend time and bond with their baby; living is not giving all your hours to the job where you have no days off. Living is not being in a space where you are not provided enough hours just so your place of employment can skip on providing insurance to employees… A JOB IS NOT LIVING. A job is a means to get the basic things you need, but it is not living.
Work and Job are two words that are deemed interchangeable in many cases. We are, again, conditioned to look at a job or career as a goal to attain, as opposed to a tool or tactic. Ever since i got my first ‘real’ job (as a mail room clerk and foot messenger at 16) i always looked at jobs as a way to experience life in various forms. i have done everything from working on a farm, art modelling, door to door canvassing, bicycle deliveries, concessions clerk, yoga instructor, floral arranger, telemarketing, cutlery and energy salesperson, stacking boxes in a truck, packing bottles in a warehouse, doughnut maker and fryer, babysitter, produce/bulk stocker (and occasional buyer), grocery stocker, cashier, outreach coordination (and more)… i have never desired to have a career in one thing my whole life. The longest i have had a a job consistently was 10 years; and honestly i may have still been working there, had the experience (particularly towards the end) not been traumatic. Obviously i realize (in the society i live in) having this number of jobs reduces many ‘serious’ prospects i have. People have also marveled at the range of experience, and wondered why i never continued, for instance, being a yoga teacher.
It’s because i have trouble equating work and job in the same sentence. Is that silly? To some people, i’m sure it is. Why would i want to depend on getting a paycheck from someone else when i could be making money on my own terms? Where is my entrepreneurial spirit? Frankly, i don’t have it. i don’t want to deal with a lot of overhead, lawyers, licenses, etc. i want to be able to do what i love without it eventually turning into a job. In terms of the yoga instruction (which i did for four years), i had a spiritual dilemma- it did not sit right with me that i was getting paid for something that is centuries old, and you can do for free.
And herein lies the work- work is something we do in our lives every day towards being a better, more compassionate person. ideally, we do not ‘clock out’ like a job when this work happens. But this is what happened to me. Despite having conversations toward creating Overjobbed and Underworked and looking forward to its creation, i sat on it, in the midst of the months of massive amounts of trauma and toxicity following me wherever i went. i entered a period of increasing depression, and creatively froze….
…And here we are. This blog you are reading right now came out of an extremely low period in my life. Not only was i isolated from people i loved (and in many cases organized with), but i also had my wallet taken, leaving me with no access to money or identification. The wallet being stolen in and of itself is not my biggest worry, honestly; Being stuck… Not being able to move on anything (where a lot of these things like identification are valued in the times we currently live in) is frustrating. Not being able to get money to eat or buy basic supplies is even more frustrating. i have been at this place many times in life before, where my faith was tested tremendously, and i thought more and more about not physically being here (i have written about these things before, in my Michael Jackson blog, The One Woman Apollo. Experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts is a very serious thing, so if possible PLEASE get some help, or speak to a loved one. You are NOT alone). Over the years (and during this ‘wallet’ situation) i have had some wonderful people in my life (strangers, acquaintances and friends) to guide me through these rough trials. Also, being a spiritual person i understand that there is something bigger than myself.
i still don’t have the wallet (or any of its contents), but i knew i had to reevaluate my life. Being back on the East Coast (after almost 20 years of being on the West Coast) has put a shock to my system. Being (again) isolated, being told you need to make 40% of an income of whatever rent you are paying; people and buildings being unrecognizable…. The vibrancy and sense of community i grew up around is gone, and it’s leaving people to be more and more reactionary. The newer residents isolate themselves, and call the police on cultural staples (ice cream trucks or drumming in the park).
i had to reevaluate my life. i returned in order to help my mother, but ended up needing help myself.
i started taking mental notes of the smaller things i found beautiful or significant, to make sense of all this trauma around me. i intended to write all of these things down in my other blog (Things I’ve been Knowing, which needs to seriously be updated), but i creatively froze. Coordinating my mother getting into a new house. Waving hello at babies and seeing them smile. Having five squirrels all get on their back legs to say ‘hello’ in the middle of winter. Comforting a woman whose brother died after an O.D. Seeing Pharoah Sanders, front row center. Meeting a woman whose car had pictures of cats all over it. Getting caught in a rainstorm on a hot, muggy day.
Things that may not have significance to others, but amidst chaos, they make things brighter.
This is the work. i may not have the ‘career’ i actually want right now- and i may not even get there in this life; if i do, that is wonderful, and i will take it for what it is- another aspect of my journey. What i do know is that i want to live a life where there is value in what i do, as opposed to me simply being a means to someone else’s profit margin. i want to be valued not by what kind of job i have, but what work i do.
There’s a reason for everything… i once again got to this low point to find the beauty in these smaller things. Did i always acknowledge the beauty in small things? Of course! When you are in the midst of the storm though (especially in the belly of the beast), it’s very difficult to get closer to it all. There’s much i have to be thankful for, and as words on a paper or screen have their limitations, adding a visual is one of the best ways i could express my feelings about these ‘smaller things’.
Thank you ‘smaller things’. And thank you for reading this blog.