First they came for the Mexicans, and I didn’t speak up because they were rapists.

Then they came for the Disabled, and I didn’t speak up because it was funny.

Then they came for the Blacks, and I didn’t speak up because they should have complied.

Then they came for the Muslims, and I didn’t speak up because they are terrorists.

Then they came for the Women, and I didn’t speak up because they asked for it.

Then they came for the Transgender, and I didn’t speak up because they used the wrong bathrooms.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because they funded the caravan.

Then they came for Me, and by that time no one was left to speak up because America had been made great again.




A people are not always their leaders


Almost a year ago I took an opportunity to partner with a nonprofit foundation in Saudi Arabia to help develop the advocacy skills of their staff and grantees. While our conversations were necessarily constrained by their political realities, I encountered good people, earnest and effective in their pursuit of strengthening the social and economic well being of Saudis. In the last few days as the details of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder have become known, I am of course shaken, but am also thinking of the people I worked with, and the friends I made while in Riyadh. And I’m reminded that a people are not always their leaders.

We need look no further than our own doorstep to understand that Russians are not Putin, and North Koreans are not Kim Jong-Un, for we are not Trump. In every dark corner of every country there will always be good people working to improve conditions for their families, their communities, their nation. And while we stand aghast and indignant over the events unfolding on the world stage, we must not become blind, numb, or indifferent to our own slide deeper into fascism.

Less than two months ago Trump referred to our media as the “enemy of the people.” How many steps is it from that to extrajudicial killings? He has already applauded the same by Duterte in the Philippines– and let us not forget his own boast that he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody…and not lose any voters.”

So let us be shocked and disgusted– and heartbroken for Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz– but let us also remain compassionate toward those the media would tell us to fear abroad and resolute in our commitment to maintain a functioning democracy at home.


Keep Storming

Protests Continue In Pittsburgh In Wake Of Last Week's Police Shooting Of Antwon Rose
(photo credit: Time Magazine; Antwon Rose protest

As a social work student one of the concepts we explored was group dynamics, with a handy rhyming scheme to help us remember: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. This described, respectively, the process of a group of people coming together for some purpose, testing and establishing boundaries, roles and processes, settling into a status quo and pursuing the function and goals of the group, and finally, terminating their association.

Perhaps most important to remember was that the process was not rigid, and groups could revert to the storming and norming stages at any point. I’ve been thinking about this concept a lot recently because it describes where we are as a nation right now– for what is a nation but a large group of people who exist as a collective? From indigenous peoples defending their lands and natural resources, to black and brown communities rising up against police brutality, the prison-industrial complex and white supremacy at large, to immigrants and refugees fighting our perverse immigration policies, to women claiming their power in the political arena and injecting accountability into our patriarchal societal order, it is clear that America is “storming.”

This is reassuring to me when I get depressed/ obsessed/ enraged at any one of the multitudes of wrongs being wrought upon these and other communities, because it is very easy to miss the forest (the rejection of the status quo and gradual reordering of society) for the trees (individual indignities, injustices, and policy setbacks). Storming is hard for sure, with egos, perspectives and agendas bound to come into conflict, but what is clear is that norming is our inevitable next stage– the recognition and acceptance that people of color and women are carving out an increasing role in deciding how our country will operate.

What is not inevitable however is for these gains to be consolidated and maintained. An increase in representation and power by these communities necessarily means a decrease in others– and the behavior we’ve seen in the country this week and the last few years– is but a small testament to how hard they will fight to retain it. Still, in what I recognize as a very hard time for victims of sexual assault, for Muslims, refugees and immigrants, and people of color at large, I am finding hope in our continued storming.