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February 2021 Newsletter
Hello All! Are you breathing easier since January 20th? Is your nervous system starting to calm down after years of political trauma? Does it feel strange to stop anticipating a grave injustice to come from the highest office in the U.S. every five minutes? I pose these questions to celebrate this moment, even while I continue to focus on the ongoing threats and crises we face as a country.

This edition provides a number of resources you might have missed related to the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol in D.C., in the second half. First, there are a few items to highlight. Be sure to scroll all the way down!
If you are interested in hearing what I have to say about the convergence of extremists and conspiracy theorists and why they remain a threat, please consider attending this upcoming Community Forum, which will take place Friday, February 5th from 7-9PM Pacific via Zoom. While the focus is on recruitment of youth into hate, it translates to anyone concerned about family, friends, neighbors, and our nation.
 
Let us celebrate each of the firsts: first Black, South Asian Female VP, first Latino Senator from CA, first Black Senator from GA, and first Jewish Senator from GA, among other firsts I have not mentioned. Many have spoken and written about each. This post from Ali Michael reflects on her celebration of the First Second Gentleman, the spouse of VP Kamala Harris, with what it means for her son.
Registration is open for AWARE-LA’s Summer Institute 2021. It will take place via Zoom Thursday-Sunday, July 22-25, 2021. It is already almost sold out because so many people from last year's interest list have registered, so register IMMEDIATELY if you want to attend.
Story Based Strategy Trainings
Do you want to speak more effectively about the need for social change, and how we can achieve it? Are there people in your life you wish you could reach? Consider learning more about Story-Based Strategy. It can help you “create more holistic social change narratives, while integrating messaging and storytelling with solid grassroots organizing and effective campaigning. They have self-directed options. Check out their training calendar!
 
This article highlights a study identifying that the mortality rate for Black babies is cut dramatically when Black doctors care for them after birth. Read to learn more about how both implicit bias as well as structural racism may play roles and how all doctors are called to improve outcomes for Black babies.
 
 
We have a lot of work to do! Stay engaged and energized by joining an ongoing, monthly support dialogue for white anti-racists. AWARE’s monthly Sunday Dialogue (SD) occurs on the 3rd Sunday of every month, 3-5PM Pacific via the Zoom online platform.  We focus on connecting, sharing, and learning from one another. If you have not signed up for the interest list (required to receive the registration link), please subscribe here: Sunday Dialogues Interest List Sign Up
A Roundup of Resources and Analysis
The days and weeks following the insurrection at the Capitol on J6 (January 6th) provided a fire hose worth of videos and articles responding to the event. Below is a collection of resources that stood out for their ability to help us recognize where we are, where we have been, and where we go from here.
The Both/And of our Reality - I particularly appreciated the Catalyst Project’s newsletter this month. After providing some context and resources, they offer a set of six tensions in a bullet point format that highlight their both/and nature. For example…
  • The US has never been a true multi-racial democracy AND we can’t allow openly fascist movements to gain more power and legitimacy.
For those of you familiar with my second book, Living in the Tension (2016), you’ll immediately recognize why I appreciate their framing of the issues. I pray this moment will allow us to approach our anti-racism with nuance, instead of the reactivity inspired by the past 4 years.

The Essential Nature of Truth - Written by Timothy Snyder, this analysis considers our collective relationship with the truth.
  • Excerpt: Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president. When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place. Without agreement about some basic facts, citizens cannot form the civil society that would allow them to defend themselves. If we lose the institutions that produce facts that are pertinent to us, then we tend to wallow in attractive abstractions and fictions. Truth defends itself particularly poorly when there is not very much of it around
Closer Than You Realize – The violent, white supremacists and those who support them are not “them, over there, far away from me.” They are our neighbors, dentists, postal carriers, grocers, etc. This article is a must read. A personal account of the history of a skinhead neighbor (who she identified as part of the riot) and his decades-long quest to legitimize and mainstream white supremacy.

Seductive Narratives: The Insurrection and Young White People - This post from Christine Saxman discusses how far-right extremist groups continue to target our youth and what we need to understand.
 
Numbness as White Supremacy – What feelings did you experience as you learned of the insurrection and witnessed the mob? This reflection invites us to consider that for most white people, our reactions pale in comparison to the terror felt by people of color, particularly Black people, who the former President targeted in his mendacious cries of “fraud” and a “stolen election.” The terror is justified. The day of the siege, a pro-Trump mob attacked a Black woman in Los Angeles. Consider this post as an invitation to reflect and recommit to breaking through our numbness to white supremacy.

This Was Nothing New – From the Black perspective, this was one more white settler uprising, like many that have come before. It reminded me that reading White Rage, by Carol Anderson, is a book that helped prepare my psyche to understand how J6, and the past 12 years that led up to it, are inextricably tied to our pattern of white backlash against Black advancement. (Thanks to Michael Novick and Turning the Tide for raising it to my attention.)

Tracking the Siege via Videos Posted to Parler – This website provides “a collection of more than 500 videos that ProPublica determined were taken during the events of Jan. 6… Taken together, they provide one of the most comprehensive records of a dark event in American history through the eyes of those who took part.” For a bit more context, “As supporters of President Donald Trump took part in a violent riot at the Capitol, users of the social media service Parler posted videos of themselves and others joining the fray. ProPublica reviewed thousands of videos uploaded publicly to the service that were archived by a programmer before Parler was taken offline by its web host.”

Tracking the Siege via Video from the Washington Post – This article provides an overview of what happened with written and video segments that track the entire event.

The Convergence of Groups – This excellent 18-minute interview features A.C. Thompson, long-standing ProPublica journalist who tracks far-right groups. He breaks down the variety of groups who came together on J6, their overlapping interests, motivating force, links to law enforcement sympathizers, and the current view of police, GOP, and federal government as complicit in a “stolen election.” A key insight is that the formally “law and order” oriented militias are now turning against the police and are now aligning with anti-government forces that believe violence is justified. We may see ongoing targeting of local and state public officials in the months and years ahead, particularly if the Biden administration passes gun safety legislation, etc.
  • If you prefer to read instead of listen, this article also describes the different groups that converged, although the analysis of the underlying and future dynamics is not developed as is the interview.
  • If you need a primer on what the various symbols and flags at the event represent, this article is for you.
Insight into the Ongoing Danger – This interview with Kathryn Belew explains how the siege at the Capitol mirrored an event described in The Turner Diaries, a white supremacists novel, and why it was a stunning success for white nationalists and anti-governmental groups. Hint: In the book, the primary goal of the insurrection was to show how easy it is for a small group to take control of the seat of power in the U.S. The goal is to pull more white people toward their side via the threat of civil war.

A Warning to Social Justice Advocates in the Wake of the Siege - from Political Research Associates (who track the far right). “The relative quiet in the wake of the election apparently lulled many to a sense of security. Yet, White supremacist and ‘Patriot’ militia organizing often surges when these movements lose ground in the electoral arena, as they shift emphasis from the ballot to the bullet. PRA advises social justice and democracy organizers to prepare for a sustained period of far-right mobilization against the incoming administration — and against social justice movement-building — fueled by conspiracy theories, bigotry, and rejection of the most basic democratic norms… [W]e who believe in emancipatory multiracial feminist democracy must both block the further capture of politics and society by authoritarian forces, and continue to build more just and democratic political and economic systems.” 

Tracking the Charges – This website provides a regularly updated list of criminal charges brought against the insurrectionists at the Capitol. Includes links to charging documents. 

Coaxing Them Back to Reality - This 15-minute audio segment from NPR provides key insights into how we need to approach family and community members who fell under the spell of QAnon and other conspiracies. (Other reporting indicates many are reeling from the failed “plan,” and they may regroup under a modified version.) Hint: This recording highlights the necessary role of unconditional love in providing a lifeline to those we need to draw back into reality. Suggestions include reminiscing about good times to prompt memories that bring our loved one back to a time prior to their identification with the conspiracy. It also calls for accountability for those (politicians, pundits, platforms, and personalities) who manipulated people and profited off them. Teaching the Siege – We may be past the moment, but the event will be a topic of discussion for years to come. This resource provides a framework that can help you teach about any traumatic event.
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Shelly Tochluk · 10 Chester Place · Los Angeles, CA 90007 · USA

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