#StayWoke, layers of

PoMoRed, 1/12/2016, Mt. Vernon, VA —

Staff meeting this afternoon, but just this morning Dr. Cornel West was on Democracy Now reminding us to dig in and push, we became certain that #notmypresident’s cabinet is made of #robberbarons, Texas is set to force women /clinics who have abortions to pay for the burial/cremation of the remains, and #StandingRock is gearing up for a confrontation with #historicalconsequences, read a great interview with Ralph Nader in Sun Magazine

“#StayWoke” usually shows up tagged to some awful event.

A murder by police. A missing or murdered transgender woman. An incorrectly drawn swastika on a school. News of some climate destabilization symptom meant to yank on our hearts. #Amnesia is a defense employed, by those not too-directly affected by these problems, to cope with the sheer psychic battering that Knowing does to us in a world built of Systems of Damage. #StayWoke is usually a reminder to keep looking, stay sharp. Like being awake all the time, it can lead to exhaustion and total breakdown.

BUT. #StayWoke also means staying Awake To Your Power. 

I see so many new energized people! Folks calling Congress to draw a line on #SteveBannon. The joy in that! If you’re a social justice advocate of any stripe, you’ve been hungering for a long time to see Americans Get Engaged! And it is really that simple: Call your representatives and let them know what you think. Keep those phone numbers in your contact list. Get their emails. Bug them. Bother them. Talk to them. It is, no joke, that simple.

#trump wants to fill his cabinet with #robberbarons (literally), call to draw a line on all of them. Congress must approve the appointments. Lay some conscience on these people.

1 minute out of your lunch break. That easy. You can call while you’re in line at your favorite casual dining establishment or small business eatery.

You can bet your soul that the political right has been at this a long time. That’s how we’re in this clusterfu(K. Because this shit works. Some of the levers of state operation can be swung in our favor.

Ralph Nader reminds us how to #StayWoke: 

… it’s not that hard to turn the country around. Most people, whatever they call themselves — conservative, liberal, libertarian, progressive — have a deep sense of fair play and justice. They’re not sadists. They care for other people. We see this in a national disaster. All labels go out the window, and everybody helps …. That’s what we need to tap into. That’s why I say fewer than 1% of the people, if they represent a majority opinion [on background checks for gun purchase and restricting assault weapons, for example] can make a lot of changes.

If that 1% makes the phone calls. One or two calls a day, at lunch maybe, or while you’re on the train or bus, or stopped on the highway in your commute.

Wanna get more radical in a totally gentle and effective way?

Throw the labels out the window forever and all of time. Just ask yourself: would I suffer if X or Y or Z were happening to me? If the answer is Yes, ask yourself one more question: Where is my phone?? The 21st Century version of: If not now, when?

Now, look at #StandingRock and ask yourself: if an occupying government broke every promise it ever made me and mine, if a company were about to dig up the cemetery where my parents and grandparents are buried, my child is buried, my spouse, if that company were about to destroy my private land,  if the police whose salaries my taxes pay and who are supposed to protect me were spraying me with water in sub-freezing temperatures in order to shut me up and get me out of this company’s way, would I suffer?

Yes, you would. So pick up the phone. Simple.

If you throw out political, even social, kinds of labels, if you act on your heart and your connection to the joy and good living and to the suffering of other people, you become a completely uncontrollable, politically unpredictable, socially responsible excellent human being. You come from a place of love and care, and that is nearly impossible to manipulate.


Your state government lists the phone numbers and contact info for state representatives and senators, and the governor and their cabinet, on a website like States each have a Senate and a General Assembly (like the House of Representatives).

Your city, too. City council, aldermen, Jane Smith who lives over on Maple St., whatever your town’s manner of organization, call them about local issues and needs.

The Feds.

Find your senators here. There’s a search box in the upper right corner.
Find your representatives in the House here. Also, search box in the upper right.

Not sure what each house of Congress is responsible for? No problem. Below are links to the committees. Here you can find out what the committees are working on, and who’s on them. You can contact committees much the way you would your own legislators.

Committees of House of Representatives

Committees of Senate

Keep your representatives’ numbers in your phone,
use them daily, #StayWoke.





You Can Support Social Justice and Get Free Poetry at the Same Time!

Hello My People of the Internet —

If you know anyone in the nonprofit world, you know we all hustle for donations, even if we do have a few grants that keep the lights on. And, if you don’t, now you do.

I am asking you to donate whatever feels good to you to Split This Rock. We’re a really small nonprofit. I do masses of work for here for free because I’ve seen with my own self how our work at the nexus of poetry and social justice affects people for the better, moves hearts to open, and generally keeps people’s souls in good working order in these trying and mournful times.

We’re passing a hat for general purposes, but we also have a big biennial poetry festival coming up April 14-17, 2016, so work and expenses do blossom. Major American and international poets from all traditions and backgrounds get together for four days to discuss the poetics of justice on nearly every issue of concern or celebration for communities creating liberation and the full glory of all our human ways of being. Plus, we read and enjoy heaps and piles of bone-shaking poetry.

Like the Poem of the Week we published for Christmas this year by the inimitable Aracelis Girmay, “from The Body of the Black Maria.”

If you want, donation or no, you can sign-up to get our newsletter, and that means you get our Poem of the Week — a free poem every Friday on one of a range of social justice issues — which, would make me happy because I help curate and publish these poems. They all live here: *The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database*. And they are incredible poems, top-of-skull-off poems.

This is by far not all we do. Our monthly reading series brings poets from DC and the whole country

Joy and comfort to you each, and to all your other beloveds, too.
Simone Roberts
Poetry & Social Justice Fellow



Media and Christians Pitch Similar Fits

Well, at least this week you
two seem to have agreed on your tone.


Reporters are writing some rather unflattering stories about being refused access to a protest at Mizzou. Organized by Jonathan Butler and #ConcernedStudents1950, the hunger strike was not meant to be a spectacle in the usual way.

The media have a long history of representing hunger strikes and political fasts as slightly nutty and exploiting the fasters to make a movement look, well, unserious.

Zoe Nicholson was one of the feminists who fasted in the rotunda of Illinois State Capitol for 45 days in a effort make legislators there understand the seriousness of their vote on the Equal Rights Amendment. Her account, The Hungry Heart: A Woman’s Fast for Justice, tells the story. The legislators spent those grueling 45 days waiting them out, and then voted no on women’s equality, effectively derailing these efforts until the present day. No ERA for us.

The media then were skeptical at best and condescending at worst concerning the women’s commitment, methods, and real goals. Thanks, guys.

Read an excerpt here.

Thing about a fast is, you don’t know how long you will have to go without food in order to (if you even) accomplish your goal. The preparation of will and spirit, and body, for this endurance test is deep and difficult and serious as hell. People do not undertake a hunger strike lightly or in the name of evanescent causes. Death is a real possibility, form starvation, or infection because going without food does a real number on your immune system.

Which, is why these students probably didn’t want reporters nosing around in their fasting camp. It’s cold and flu season, people. Plus, you just don’t need you concentration and solidarity disrupted when you’re trying to do such an incredibly hard and often misunderstood thing.

The various newspapers who’ve run disgruntled stories about being refused access, or removed from the fasting camp are ridiculous. You do not automatically get access to citizens, even citizens performing a public act like this. No one is obliged to talk to you. Acting like we are so obliged is simply childish.

Coffee Cups

So. Hi.Christ in Christmas

All this fluffy outrage is the dissonance of faithlessness. Align your hearts, and all the dross and costume of your Lord’s day will fall away in oblivion and leave only warm and active harmony of your compassion for these who are least among you.

Christian faith, in the practice of those have faith, is a demanding and world changing ministry of love.

Starbies isn’t being Christmasy enough for the #waronchristmas folks. I am agiggle. #BoycotStarbucks

And here’s why. The last thing you should want, in the name of you Lord, is to be seduced and suckered (what you call represented) by corporate brand management and advertizing. You should, I’m pretty sure, want Mammon to leave you the hell alone, thank you very much.

Meme on Adoption

But, no. Every year you want more civic space, more economic space, more legal space, more DOMINION — which, is not your place. It’s really no one’s place but your Lord’s, or the business of Mammon’s empires, anyway. Not a thing Jesus was super fond of, himself.

I’m not a Christian, but I take your faith seriously. Please, I hope you will too. The Yule Solstice is a time of deep introspection, of sustaining my friends and community against the dark and cold forces of winter –figuratively of dispossession and oppression. Let’s look to each other, yeah?, to each other for shelter and sustenance.