The last two weeks have given us an intimate look at political anxiety in America. Elections were looming and mud was slinging. The fears of 47.1% of voters would slug it out with the fears of the other 48% on November 8th. We find ourselves 290 electoral votes into the future, making America Great, again.
11/4 – The White House
It was a seasonably warm November afternoon. We had yet to discover who would become the next President of the United States of America. It was day one of Black is Back Coalitions’s conference on the National Political Agenda for Self Determination. Members and marchers gathered atop the step fountain at Malcolm X Park A.K.A. Meridian Hill in Northwest Washington, DC. In a city with shifting socioeconomic tides, this is an area where on any day you’ll find folk meditating, doing yoga, playing Frisbee, football & more. This day, however, seemed like a quick “SKRT SKRT” before elections.
Park police cruisers were perched just outside the perimeter established by Black is Back Coalition security. The plan was for members to march from Malcolm X Park, down to the White House, a mile and half away. Minutes before marchers got into formation, a report came in from Park Police about a man wielding a knife & a gun at Lafayette Park (across the street from the White House). Oh yea, BIB members were marching on the White House right after Anonymous’ “Million Mask March.” Their march had mostly headed towards the Capitol building by the time BIB arrived at 1600 (Pennsylvania Ave). Though Park Police didn’t say they couldn’t march, they did advise BIB that they would continue to assess the threat level as the event continued.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly states that:
“All peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, cultural and social development.”
In 1966, the U.N. recognized this critical need. Today at the Black is Black Coalition gathering we see the fall out from years of political, cultural and socioeconomic neglect. Today a group that some would call extreme is fighting for rights that other call basic. At the top of their agenda is reparations from the United States government for atrocities committed during the triangle slave trade and beyond. Their paradigm is key. BIB advocated & stands behind the United Nation’s position that the role of the United States of America during the transatlantic slave trade was a crime against humanity. Today, strange fruit still lay, rotting in America.
11/9/16 – Trump International Hotel
DC streets remained in an uproar after the election. On November 9th, at campaign headquarters, we shared stories of public sobbing by saddened citizens. It’s no surprise that some were disappointed post election. This is what democracy looks like. We all can’t win, at least not every time. As protests continued so did the dissent. As protests raged through Washington, DC’s Chinatown towards the newly completed Trump International Hotel.
Marchers, activists and media converged on 1100 Pennsylvania Ave, blocks from the White House to protest the electoral victory. “Not… My… President… Not my president!” protester chanted. Dissenting voiced cried out from the fringes of the gathering. They wanted protesters to realize that this is not the main grievance. Queer black issues, trans black issues, black women’s rights all take a back seat the issues of those who recently felt offended by the election.
In September, at American University, students were assaulted with rotten bananas in a hate crime attack. This attack at Anderson Dormitory was not an isolated incident. The Black Student Alliance was compelled to act which resulted in the guilty students’ suspensions. This resulted in a back lash from those who feel like society has become too sensitive around black victimization. Tonight, the systematically overshadowed voices lashed back.
11/11-11/13 – Catharsis on The National Mall
Local burners coordinated Catharsis on the National Mall to bring in and ring out Veteran’s Day weekend. They set up a psychedelic wonderland between the Washington Monument and the World War II memorial. This emerging annual event, coordinated by groups like MAPS & DCMJ, sought to shed light on the tragedies and treatments of PTSD. Speakers shared storied of immigration, love and wars, of all types. Today, among other things trippy, you’d find out how some of those “Just say ‘No” drugs can be used to treat people. A key aspect of this experience is the actual burn, this year there was a temple constructed bearing a Phoenix on each of its four sides. Burners were encouraged to write something on it. It would later be set ablaze. This grand display is meant to purge participants of the pain. Their hope is that you find a better reflection after the fire.
Being pretty damn hippie ourselves, we could feel the vibe shifting as we walked away from catharsis on the national mall. Maybe it was our third eye knowing it was walking back into great ol’ America, As we were stepping away from the mall, crossing the street, a man climbed a tree. This man climbed a tree, pounded his chest & said “Victory!” We know there was a victory last week who will win is still TBD. On Monday, the full moon did what it usually does by bringing out the crazy. Kids were marching out of schools, FLOTUS was called an “Ape in heels” (then issued one of the worst apologies ever) and our President Elect was shaking up the cabinet. By Wednesday, we were back into the motions of this divided state of America.