On #mindfulfreedom 1/15/15
Ok, gonna ramble and try to get my thoughts together here. Last night's conversation with Angela Davis and Jon Kabat-Zinn (http://www.eastbaymeditation.org/event/412/mindfulness-andpossibility-of-freedom) was a bit of a disappointment.
True, at least part of that is because I'm such a fanboi about Angela Davis. And probably I had unreasonable expectations. There was something I didn't realize I was thirsty for--tying individual transformation to collective liberation.
I can see how it was a little out of scope to hope that the conversation would touch on Cuba (and maybe draw connections between that and that of the "opening" of China to capitalism).
But let me back up a bit and get back to my notes. Maybe if I let it settle a bit, something more succinct will come out of the sediment.
Somehow, I managed to unearth a journal with notes from when I last saw Angela Davis speak--in conversation with Tim Wise, May 13, 2011.
Last night, I was a little overwhelmed by the crowd--it was both unruly and unconscious, in a way that I find particularly irritating.
So to self-soothe, I sat down and looked over my notes from 2011 and made a quick outline of things I hoped might come up, or have parallels in the mindfulness talk.
Here's those notes (most notes below from Angela Davis' side of the conversation):
• Private immigration detention centers as the next source of income after the prison industrial complex.
• Young people--she exhorted them to be creative, to follow their hears and let the older folks know what we need to do.
• Young people have always been the ones leading this work
• (Made me think about recent movements, MAU, etc.)
• Immigrant rights--this is the primary civil rights struggle of our time.
•See the line of power--immigration now directly linked to war on terrorism
• Those of us NOT the target have to ACT (not talk) in solidarity.
• If we do not act, we are complicit.
• The middle class is defined as $20K-$250K--this is not a basis for solidarity! (No longer an identifiable "working class"--dismantles this opportunity for community/solidarity work...)
• "The revolution you fight for isn't the revolution you will see."
• You have to work even if you never see results.
• It never turns out the way you expect it to--but it's important to be passionate and inspired.
•(How combat false sources of news?)
• (Ramifications of a capitalist China--this was in 2011. And now thinking, parallels wrt Cuba? Any thoughts about Assata Shakkur?)
And my notes from last night (most aren't direct quotes, my notes are mixed in, and of course I didn't get everything--but using initials to try and keep a sense of the flow of the convo):
AD: Mindfulness in the face of huge oppression--reiterated the title of the conversation:
"In a racially unjust world, what good is mindfulness? What is the relationship between individual transformation and collective liberation?"
JK: Three things (causes suffering): Greed, hatred, ignorance.
Don't ignore the symptoms: What were the antecedents? Our delusion is that we see ourselves as the good guys. What actions did we do to cause it (ex/ 911)?
AD: Who are the "we" you're talking about?
JK: The government, but we are complicit/responsible.
AD: Could we have used mindfulness to see these things happening?
Compassion and be critical.
Could we have seen these things coming (Ferguson, etc).
(Again) Who is the "we" JK mentions? -- not comfortable with characterizing this as our actions.
Is JK speaking about using mindfulness on an individual level (with individual police officers, etc) or on an institutional level?
JK: Mentions white privilege (never comes up again...)
Mindfulness to address communities within the institutions (so not the institutions...?), makes a joke about not being able to change Congress (great...)
AD/JK: Vitriolic anti-muslim racism has become the norm around the world--what terrorism have we nurtured by our actions that our gov't refuses to analyze.
JK: Remember that the Buddha wasn't a buddhist (forget what this was in reference to now...was funny at the time).
(This is out of order) mentioned Koans--unsolvable riddles--ex/ 911 attackers solved their koan--how to destroy the capitalist symbols (twin towers) with america's own planes. (interesting to reframe in terms of different koans).
AD: I want to press you on structural transformation (emph mine--can see individual transformation, but not the structural).
JK: Institutions are self-preserving (SO WHAT WOULD WORK...?--I was starting to complain out loud in my seat at this point), and something about mindful aikido (which frankly, JK exhibited great skill in all night...deflect, derail, repeat...).
AD: Capitalist system--even with "good" corporations--they have to function within a capitalist system "...and to bring Marx into this..."
Exploitation is not a judgement--it is scientifically calculated--exploitation is a requirement for capitalism to function.
Most violence in the world is against women.
Have to realize that we are within the system, even our emotions are doing the work of the system.
JK: Something about the 10,000 year view.
AD: Wants us to think connections--the smallness of the world--"corporations already know this, this is why you can go anywhere in the world and go to starbucks or walgreens...let's not talk about them..."
We can be large and small at the same time. ex/ Palestinian-Ferguson connection wrt tear gas canisters (same used in Palestine used in Ferguson) and working in solidarity around that.
• SF county jail, One Family (org that allows children to visit their incarcerated parents and ask hard questions): w/recent police violence, how can we help avert further violence--both from in jail and once we're out in the community?
AD: We're all acting as if this violence first time it happened. What you are doing in prison is exactly what you need to be doing. When out, get involved with community, solidarity work.
• What would happen if serious dialog with Google etc. (re: Wisdom 2.0 conference)?
JK: See who Google (and corporations) are/is (?). They can sneeze and provide money. Zappos building low income housing (um, still doesn't address the structural problems...)
• Vegan question role of mindfulness wrt non humans
AD: suffering of animals... (didn't catch this one...)
• Restorative justice movement
AD: her sister works with Oakland youth in restorative justice (!!!)
• Structure of mind/heart--needed in social justice movement/on the left without creating enemy--can we still have energization?
Something about imagination, imagining other worlds...
AD: "We didn't win the revolution we thought we were fighting for and that we thought was right around the corner. But we learned so much more -- possibilities of freedom within class struggle, sense of freedom is so much more capacious than we realized."
• Microaggressions, how grapple with being implicated in the war against us (ex/ blackpeoplematter)
AD: The possibility of struggle so much more diverse/heterogeneous than we imagined.
Building community = bringing ppl together who images a future that will make justice accessible to all.
Anti-muslim racism--posits Islam as the global enemy of Democracy. Need to work in solidarity ag. this.
• Watching ppl who practice mindfulness and as a lifelong activist, not necessarily seeing them develop any political consciousness. Seeing AD pressing this point--can you say how mindfulness can be used by activists?
JK: Mindful practitioners (if authentic) are activists (...and that's it...headed to the bar...)