Southside Rise Up – End The Police State

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rest in power

[Breonna Taylor, rest in power, queen. This time around, there are more of us keeping the fight going…]

You want to know who I fight for? Fuck your flags, your ideologies, and your gods. I fight for my family of loved ones. Them folks that have pledged to take care of my family if I die early. The same pledge I carry in my heart every day. Now more than ever.

My loved ones and I are ready to walk the talk. Hell, we’ve been doing it for longer than we care to imagine. We are a pod of fighting families living right here in Southside. We are bonded at heart and soul through our children, they are the reason we do what we do. We have been marching, organizing, cleaning the streets, defending neighborhoods, protecting the most vulnerable, facing police brutality, and resisting the police state, all while raising our kids and animals. We are tired and stressed. But we’re now knuckling down for the long haul.

The real revolution.

This is our town, our ‘hood, and here are some changes we’d like to see – CONCRETE SUGGESTIONS to defund and dismantle the police with the following four points as a springboard and Precinct 3 as the pilot:

(1) Recruit peace officers solely from the neighborhoods they work in, and very crucially representing the racial makeup of the neighborhood. Essentially they will be uniformed social workers who live and work in the community. Right now, in Southside there are so many young and middle aged adults, many unemployed due to corona; highly experienced in public health, social services, education, community organizing and more. A section of these adults can easily brought up to the fitness level of a beat cop, and be uniformed, patrolling social workers for the neighborhood, building community and social relations while helping maintain public safety and health. You wouldn’t even need squad cars because beat cops buddy up and WALK the neighborhood, i.e. their beat (hence the need for practical lived fitness rather than bench pressing meatheads with guns). This is akin to a lot of countries who have made giant strides in reducing police brutality and impunity, such as those in Western and Northern Europe. Policing needs to be replaced by the city paying us to take care of our own communities instead of paying ridiculous salaries for suburban adrenalin-junkies to beat and brutalize us.

(2) Train peace officers rigorously in trauma-informed practice, de-escalation, community organizing, public health, community safety, intelligent self defense – while significantly decreasing enforcement training, arms training, punitive control, siege mentality nonsense, power & control bullshit. Again we have multiple experienced professionals in Southside who can examine the training curriculum and propose practical changes. Perhaps a new set of peace officers starting with Precinct 3 can also be the pioneering cadets to be trained as these uniformed social workers.

(3) Peace officers must be disarmed of all lethal weapons. Have you seen the beat cops in some of the wealthiest, safest countries on earth? They don’t walk around like our city cops, in full captain-america-wannabe tactical gear. They look like city volunteers at a local park with maybe a flashlight, a baton, or some mace. What about terrorists you say? What about situations where armed police are needed? Sure thing – have a small, tiny percentage of the police be tactically trained and ready to be called on for the rare, rare time when such armed intervention is necessary. You know who has better response times than the majority of US police when it comes to dealing with terrorists? European police. Because they don’t expect their beat cops to intervene in a tactical situation. The guns for beat cops just gives them this overwhelming sense of power and entitlement. I know what it’s like to wear a uniform and have a rifle over my shoulder. The power of a gun is very, very addictive and absolutely counter-productive for the overwhelming majority of reasons police are called to intervene in America.

(4) Finally, all peace officers must be subject to rigorous civilian oversight. Each precinct must have a paid civilian oversight panel with prosecutorial powers, with panel members being residents of the precinct jurisdiction. This is kind of a bare minimum for any democracy. It’s a crying shame we don’t have this in our cities.

This is JUST THE BEGINNING.All this and more ought to be coupled with TRUTH & RECONCILIATION COMMISSIONS on police brutality over the past many generations. Minneapolis can be the starting point. Open those police files and let the brutal healing process begin.

None of this is new of course. We’re not reinventing the wheel here. Our families of Southside who, I repeat, have been organizing, protesting, marching, protecting neighborhoods, all while raising our children and animals, are here to help. And we have a lot of friends. What do you need to make this happen? More practical, concrete suggestions? Position papers on all of the above? Volunteers to step up and do the grunt work?We’re ready to walk the talk, if our elected leaders are ready to do the same.

More soon on dismantling the link between generational white supremacy and policing, connecting this movement with prison abolition, making a serious push for reparations, and why police unions need to be done away with (I say this as a union organizer myself because mercenaries of the state protecting elite interests don’t need unions).

#southsideriseup

#endthepolicestate

A 3 point proposal for significant police reform in Minneapolis (with the 3rd precinct as pilot)

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George Floyd, RIP.

May your killing, like so many before you, not be in vain.

My town is burning in its glorious resistance against the police state. We are marching, protesting, agitating, cleaning, protecting, organizing, and healing all at once. I have to go soon to join my buddies defending midtown and Lake Street. So I’m going to keep it simple. This is the time to push for serious and significant police reform in OUR TOWN – with the ultimate goal of abolishing the authoritarian police state and establishing community policing norms based on trauma-informed consent and cooperation. I humbly add this proposal to the mix and will start canvassing for implementation within my Southside community. This is my town, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow uniformed psychopaths patrolling it without resistance.

Starting with the 3rd precinct and eventually across the entire city of Minneapolis:

  1. Police personnel need to have residence in the precincts they are patrolling. This means that they build their policing career and raise their families in the same neighborhood. This is contrary to the majority of urban police in America, including the Twin Cities – wherein cops commute into a diverse city from homogeneous, middle class suburbs with a siege mentality, looking at the city’s diversity as a constant threat to be mitigated.
  2. Police personnel need to only have non-lethal weapons and be trained as trauma-informed social workers rather than authoritarian soldiers, getting off on people’s fear of their power to kill with impunity. There are many countries, like the UK for instance, where the overwhelming majority of police are unarmed and policing is done through consent and cooperation rather than brute force. Finally,
  3. A civilian oversight panel must be in operation for each police precinct (comprising of residents from said precinct) with prosecutorial powers over police personnel.

The police state does not appear overnight. Like any other institution, it reproduces socially, culturally, and politically over generations. It is only when the people push back against the tide of authoritarianism does true liberty and freedom take root.

Until that time…Fuck 12

Standing with Kashmir – and the renewal of solidarity

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[This post is dedicated to S.A.R. Geelani (1969-2019), a martyr to the cause of human rights and justice. Shaheed Geelani Saab Amar Rahe.]

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{photo credit: Muzammil Sidheeqi http://paarapuram.blogspot.com/}

10/30/2019

Yesterday I was reminded with forceful clarity that as an Indian who stands in solidarity with Kashmiri Azadi, it is important to constantly evolve in one’s solidarity efforts. And for me that means digging deep into a multitude of nagging questions and uncomfortable reflections. For instance…

Why did it take me so long to stand in solidarity with the people of Kashmir and their right to freedom? So much longer than it should have really?

It’s only been a few years since I came out publicly in solidarity with Kashmiri Azadi, but I’ve been active with Palestine-solidarity work for much, much longer. It’s even more insidious considering Kashmir is way closer to the land of my birth and childhood – geographically, culturally, and politically – than Palestine ever could be.

No doubt the lingering insecurities and cowardice of majoritarian nationalism run deep.

Truth is, organizing in solidarity with Palestine was just easier to do, mostly cos I didn’t have to do some heavy lifting on deep-rooted nationalist baggage. Make no mistake, I am ever grateful for what I learnt and experienced doing Palestine-solidarity work, not to mention the fact that I met the love of my life through that activism. I will always be in solidarity with the liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian people. But like the Jewish or Israeli progressive who is progressive on everything except Palestine, I was the Indian progressive who is progressive on everything except Kashmir.

I talked the talk and said the right words to be the liberated thinker I thought I was (which I may very well be doing right now).

But deep down, the nationalism of my youth exerted and still exerts great subconscious leverage.

Which is why I think transnational solidarity must always be renewed to stay honest and grounded.

Especially the often fickle and feckless solidarity that emerges from a member of a rogue oppressor nation to his occupied brothers and sisters facing the brute end of that nationalist oppression.

So, as an Indian – no matter how long it may take for this latent jingoism to whither away – I hope to keep saying till my dying breath…

Azadi now.

Azadi forever.

Free Kashmir.

I’m retired (from all boss work) at the age of 39 – here is what I’ve “achieved” and what I’m looking forward to…

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First off, what I’m looking forward to…

Spending as much time as possible with loved ones, human and non-human.

Spending as much time as possible working on family and community-building projects that have intrinsic meaning and universal purpose devoid of fiat currency exchange or capitalist market value pressures.

Spending as much time as possible enjoying life, working out, eating good food, drinking nice libations, doing interesting shit, learning new skills, making new friends, and of course finding spiritual nourishment from a myriad herbal products.

We’re at a financially stable enough place with strong enough community ties and good enough investments where I’ll only be working very part-time, one-off and likely one-day gigs as and when needed, mostly to stay sharp in the immediate labor market while constantly learning new, interesting skills. And primarily through community contacts and neighborhood networks, which usually make them much more enjoyable. I’ve also found one-off gigs really satiate my need for constant mental stimulation and are almost always interesting enough to make the day go by fast without having to worry about any douchey co-worker the next day.

But absolutely no more boss work whether that boss be a person or an institution.

From now on I only ever will work with people for fair wage or barter (including just for the lulz from time to time), but never ever for anybody.

And I will only work gigs that I can give a middle finger to at any point in time if the person I’m working with ends up being an asshole. Even if that person is someone I will buy a beer for afterwards to make up.

I’m really loving this retirement shit. It is quite liberating. I am feeling rather liberated in the midst of all this love and struggle.

As a little celebratory blog post and just for egomaniacal kicks, I thought I’d upload my highly embellished, constantly updated CV, not to mention the last iteration I will ever use (slightly modified and formatted for the post) as I don’t ever plan on applying for a “job” again.

Goodbye professional career, fare thee well and thanks for all the dark comedy.

Shree Varuna aka Sriram Ananthanarayanan aka Sri Ananth aka Warrior Clown

Email: forthematriarchy@gmail.com

Blog: https://loveliberationstruggle.wordpress.com

PROFILE

  • Status: US Permanent Resident (Green Card); Citizen of Canada; Overseas Citizen of India. Hold Canadian and Indian Passports.
  • Language/Communication Skills: English (native), Tamil (fluent), Hindi (fluent), Urdu (good), and Kannada (average).
  • Teaching/Education Skills: workshops (design and implementation), sessionals, online lectures and presentations, remote workshops, curriculum development, popular education, street theatre, discussion groups, and mass communication (utilizing newsletters, flyers, pamphlets, handouts etc.).
  • Computer/Publishing Skills:
  1. Microsoft Office (Word/Excel/PowerPoint) and various Adobe products (Publisher/Photoshop);
  2. WordPress and Blogger site construction, maintenance and management (including flexible usage of multiple templates, graphics, textual styles and design styles, mostly focusing on minimalism and simplicity);
  3. E-book and paperback POD publishing skills (Createspace, Smashwords etc.), including pdf/epub/mobi creation, book-blogs, and websites;
  4. Blog creation, maintenance, content generation, and taxonomy for informational/cultural sites; SEO best practices and blog promotion experience.
  5. Film/video editing software, documentary film-making, and camera work experience, especially for simple 5-10 minute YouTube videos and vlogs.
  6. Podcasting experience – via sites like Blog Talk Radio and with recording software.
  • Writing Skills: nonfiction essay/article, narrative journalism, reportage, fictional autobiography, research papers, position papers, creative nonfiction, and speculative fiction. (Publications below)
  • Editing Skills: Content editing and copyediting experience in multiple formats/media.
  • Committed to liberatory social change with anti-oppression principles, especially in my primary life endeavor as a parent and nurturer. Committed to peace, nonviolence, self-improvement, social justice, mindful self-reflection, and striving to live in harmony with the earth and all non-human souls.

 

EDUCATION + COLLEGE MEMBERSHIP

Degrees:

  • May 2004 – Masters in Public Health & Human Geography, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.
  • Nov 2001 – Bachelors Degree in Engineering, Bangalore University, Bangalore, India.

Post-Graduate Studies:

  • Sept 2008 to May 2011 – Teaching Fellow at the Department of Geography, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN, USA. ABD thesis papers published in two different peer-reviewed journals.
  • Courses completed include graduate level courses in Human Geography, Political and Economic Geography, Feminist Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Research Methods, Research & Development, Urban Planning, Political Science, Cultural Studies, Subaltern History, and Sociology.

Completed Certifications:

  • Nov 2016 – Sexual Assault Advocacy Training, Sexual Violence Center, Minneapolis, MN.
  • Dec 2015 – Refugee Mental Health, CAMH, Toronto, ON.
  • May 2015 – Crisis Intervention & De-Escalation, Parkdale Community Health Centre, Toronto, ON.
  • Dec 2014 – First Aid & CPR, Parkdale Community Health Centre, Toronto, ON.
  • Nov 2014 – Techniques in Anxiety & Depression Management, Leading Edge Seminars, Toronto, ON.
  • Sept 2014 – New Approaches to Treating Traumatic Memory, Leading Edge Seminars, Toronto, ON.
  • April 2014 – Professional Practice and Jurisprudence in Psychotherapy, College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario, Toronto, ON.
  • March 2014 – Post Partum Depression and Healing, Parkdale Community Health Centre, Toronto, ON.
  • Feb 2013 – Addressing Violence and Aggressive Behaviour in Primary Care Settings, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON.
  • May 2013 – Trauma-Informed Counselling and Therapy for Front-Line Workers, The Hincks Dellcrest Centre, Gail Appel Institute, Toronto, ON.
  • Nov 2013 – CBT Treatment of Anxiety and Depression, Leading Edge Seminars, Toronto, ON.
  • Nov 2013 – Mindfulness and Affect Regulation Approaches to Trauma Therapy, Leading Edge Seminars, Toronto, ON.
  • Past Certifications: Understanding and Managing Aggressive Behaviour (UMAB), HIV & Substance Use Training, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Fitness, Health & Nutrition, and De-Escalation Techniques.

Past professional college membership:

  • College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) in Toronto – Passed membership requirements via the grand-parenting route established by the Transitional Council of the CRPO.

 

WORK EXPERIENCE (HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND SOCIAL SERVICES)

Mar 2016 – present

Parent, Freelance Writer, Teacher, and Labor Artiste

  • Ever since our daughter, Daya, was born in March 2016, co-parenting with my partner Susanne has been my full-time life occupation. We made a conscious decision that I would make a shift in my career for a period of time to more flexible income-generating labor, like freelance writing, consulting, and substitute teaching, in order to share the parenting load while simultaneously cutting costs in our lives so we could live simpler, more intentionally caring lives with time for each other.
  • Past consultancy/writing projects have included advocacy trainings and violence prevention workshops. I also worked for 6 months with the Sexual Violence Center, where I completed and later conducted the 40-hour state-mandated Sexual Assault Advocacy training.
  • For a brief while I worked part-time as a freelance journalist for The College Daily
  • For nearly two years during this period, I worked as a Reserve Teacher for Minneapolis Public Schools, which was wonderful due to the flexibility of the position. I was able to uphold parenting responsibilities while generating income in a position that still gave back to society in many ways. But I eventually decided to stop and indeed retire completely from professional work following this position. I saw too much structural oppression going on in the public school system with nary a way of doing anything to dismantle, which was rather depressing eventually.
  • While a sub with MPS, I enjoyed working different full-time jobs that required physical exertion during the summer months when the schools are closed, including stone masonry, carpentry, construction, demolition, landscaping, and more. I like working out so try my hardest to incorporate it into work that helps me develop interesting skills while going into beast mode.

Dec 2012 – Dec 2016

Counsellor/Therapist (Parkdale Community Health Centre, Toronto,ON)

  • Full-time. I provided trauma-informed therapy and healing support for clients dealing with numerous deep-rooted life struggles, including PTSD, Complex PTSD, anxiety, and depression. This included several clients dealing with severe childhood trauma. I was also the only man in our counselling team, which meant that I had a case load of about 80-90 clients, mostly men, 45-50 of whom had severe, complex trauma that brought with it accompanying struggles with violence and substance use.
  • Utilized a variety of therapeutic methods such as modified CBT, motivational counseling, general support, providing structures for daily living and life/health-management, helping to develop healthier coping mechanisms, and assistance in building stronger, healthier relationships. Strived to incorporate anti-oppressive principles and self-reflection that often ran counter to the prevailing frameworks of care.
  • Pursued a holistic method of providing care and support, with the aim of long-term health, healing, and happiness.
  • Utilized an anti-oppression and harm-reduction approach in providing advocacy and referrals to support clients in dealing with institutional marginalization, homelessness, poverty, racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, and systemic abuse.
  • Ran low-intensity groups for people dealing with many of the above issues.
  • Conducted community outreach and popular education events in the area.
  • Developed partnerships with sister agencies and ran joint programs for marginalized groups in the community.
  • From March 2016 to Dec 2016, I was on full-time, paid parental leave. Yeah, the benefits with this job were phenomenal (plus, Canada).

Sept 2011 – Dec 2012

Community Health Worker (LOFT Community Services, Toronto, ON)

  • Full-time. Provided trauma-informed counselling and case management for clients in McEwan Housing and Support Services (Community Mental Health Program).
  • Engaged in community support and legal/social advocacy for marginalized, homeless people living with HIV/AIDS, and requiring support surrounding housing, physical/mental health, legal issues, fiscal management, and employment support.
  • Low-intensity counselling for clients dealing with PTSD, Complex PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
  • Advocacy for clients with government bodies like border services, immigration the police and court system, as well as state social agencies like disability support, city housing, public guardians etc.

June 2011 – Sept 2011

South Asian Community Development Worker (Parkdale Community Health Centre, Toronto, ON)

  • Part-time (14 hours per week, 4-month contract). Community-development, outreach/education, and advocacy on issues surrounding gender rights, LGBTQ+ rights, health access, food access, and immigration.
  • Ran an advocacy group for marginalized South Asians in addition to developing new support groups for newcomers, youth and the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Networking with religious institutions, community-organizations, and direct service programs in order to conduct presentations/workshops that address the above issues.

Sept 2008 – May 2011

Lecturer and Teaching Fellow (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN)

  • Part-time (20 hours per week). Lectured, developed course material, graded papers, and ran workshops for students as part of teaching fellowship.
  • Ran office hours for students, which included counseling them on their academic progress.
  • Courses taught: Globalization 101, Cities and Change, Biogeography, Human Geography 101, and Our Globalizing World.
  • During this time I was intimately involved in organizing around grad student rights with Grad Student Workers United. I organized on issues surrounding education/healthcare access, and fees reduction, while also coordinating the monthly newsletter for our group.
  • I was also an active member of the Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign, a Palestine-solidarity BDS campaign that continues to be active in the state (and also happens to be where I met my glorious partner, Susanne).

Jan 2007 – Aug 2008

Co-Founder and Director (Jan Manthan, Gujarat, India)

  • Full-time. Co-founded a community-based organization in the state of Gujarat in northwestern India.
  • The organization was based in two poor working-class neighborhoods, having many survivors of fascist violence that targeted minority communities in 2002.
  • Jan Manthan was involved in running a women’s labor cooperative, building youth groups, running a civic rights movement, and advocating for the rights of survivors of violence.
  • My responsibilities included program direction, fundraising, networking with international donors, and month-to-month visioning with activists on the ground.
  • I worked pro-bono for the organization until December 2014, offering part-time outreach, networking, and fundraising services until the organization was stable.
  • While working on setting up Jan Manthan, I also freelanced as a writer and organizer on issues surrounding social disenfranchisement, economic marginalization, gender justice, and militarism.

June 2004 – Dec 2006

Outreach Coordinator

  • Full-time. Worked primarily on education, outreach, and violence prevention.
  • Implemented many education programs for youth/adults on violence prevention, gender rights, immigrant rights, grassroots organizing, and conflict resolution.
  • Was involved in coalition-building, community-outreach, and developed two curricula on preventing gender-based violence within multi-cultural settings and immigrant rights.
  • Duties encompassed direct advocacy, including running the shelter from time to time, conducting intake interviews, and legal support.
  • Integrally involved in starting an anti-trafficking coalition called Mata Hari: Eye of the Day.
  • Recruited and trained volunteers in outreach, education, violence prevention, fundraising events, and direct advocacy.
  • During this period, I was part of a month-long, solidarity delegation called Boston 2 Palestine. We travelled through occupied Palestine to participate in nonviolent direct action and learning about colonial occupation and apartheid, with the larger plan of strengthening the Palestine-solidarity movement in Boston. Upon return, we conducted multiple popular education events and plugged into campaign work in and around Boston, building cross-movement ties of solidarity.

May 2003 – May 2004

Curriculum Developer (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD)

  • Part-time (20 hours per week). Research, writing, and module/workshop-development.
  • Networking with educators and various departments in developing curricula for their distance education courses.
  • Developing and conducting “Train the Trainer” workshops for professors and teachers.
  • Curriculum development for courses in Public Health, Environmental Studies, Political and Economic Geography, Environmental Health, and Social Work.

April 2002 – Dec 2002

Emergency Aid Worker (Aman Samudaya, Gujarat, India)

  • Worked with peace and justice coalition involved in the relief and rehabilitation of victims of violence that targeted minority communities in Gujarat.
  • The first phase of the work was in relief camps, and involved shelter construction, procurement of rations and medical relief.
  • The second phase of the work, after the camps closed down, was community-centric, and involved livelihood-generation projects, house reconstruction and health advocacy.
  • The work involved extensive networking and research for human rights and justice campaigns.
  • Also involved in security and safety in the camps, as well as conflict resolution.

Sept 1997 – March 2002

Volunteer Organizer and Elected President (VISIONS Bangalore, Bangalore, India)

  • Volunteered in student-run AIDS awareness and sexuality rights group in South India.
  • Helped implement awareness programs, street theatre, a health advocacy network, and gender/sexuality rights campaigns.
  • Co-founder of the education/prevention committee and the health advocacy network.
  • Served as elected President for two years from Sept 1999 to Sept 2001.

 

RESEARCH/WRITING/EDITING EXPERIENCE + AWARDS/FELLOWSHIPS

Past Published Papers:

  • Conceptualizing Solidarity and Realizing Struggle, Interface: A Journal For And About Social Movements, November 2014.
  • The Politics of the Palestinian BDS movement, Socialism and Democracy (Routledge), November 2013.
  • Scheduled Tribe Status for Adivasis in Assam, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies (Taylor and Francis), August 2010.
  • SEZs: New Mechanisms for Imperialism in India, Socialism and Democracy (Routledge), March 2008.

Past Published Articles, Writing Projects, and Short Stories:

Current Writing Projects

Awards/Fellowships:

  • International Book Awards, Finalist, Multicultural Fiction for debut novel, Across the Sabarmati (2014).
  • Special Appreciation Award from community members of Parkdale (2015-2016).
  • Dunn Peace Fellowship, University of Minnesota (2010).
  • Teaching Fellowship, University of Minnesota (2008).
  • Achievement Award from Jane Doe Inc (Boston) for gender justice work among immigrants/refugees (2006).
  • Appreciation Award from South Asian Network (LA) for anti-sexism work in California (2006).
  • Department Scholarship, Johns Hopkins University (2003).
  • Commendation Award for AIDS awareness and sexuality rights work in Bangalore (1999).
  • Cultural Artiste of the Year, People’s Education Society, Bangalore University (1998 & 1999).

Hobbies/Passions and Sports Awards

  • Writing, martial arts, cooking and learning new cuisines, exploring different philosophies & spiritual teachings, cuddle-torturing my pets.
  • Gold Medal, 4×400, Bangalore Track & Field Senior Collegiate, People’s Education Society, Bangalore University (1998).
  • Double Silver Medal, 400 & 800, Bangalore Track & Field Junior Collegiate, SBMJ College (1995)
  • Silver Medal, 4×400, Karnataka Amateur Athletics Championship, Sports Authority of India (1995).
  • Most Improved Fighter, Bangalore Mixed Martial Arts Youth Tournament, Club Yuva (1995).

 References available upon request (fair warning though  – I keep company with some real wingnuts like myself)

 

Long live the Sudanese revolution…

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Today I learnt of a revolution going on in one of the poorest (and yet richest) countries in the world.

I learnt of a people fighting for freedom and sustenance with women at the forefront and community as their guiding light.

I realized that the true geniuses of our age have never been the gilded intellectuals shuffling along the mediocre ivory towers and media conglomerates of the West but rather revolutionary souls like the students and professionals, bakers and homemakers, brothers and sisters, of arid Sudan, kicking oppression right in the gonads.

And I am ever so grateful for them, for they tell me that the spirit of humanity will always fight for love and liberty, for peace and laughter, for bread and roses.

No matter how bleak tomorrow might seem.

Let the powers that be try and oppress that…

To love and nurture without attachment?

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Off late I’ve been trying to mull over the Buddhist notion of attachment being at the root of suffering. It’s a concept that’s easy enough to grasp at a cerebral level, but remarkably hard to put into practice as a way of finding inner peace and all that other soulful shit.

For starters, the thought of attachment being at the root of all suffering is just that, a thought. It’s a ridiculously simple, and thus enormously complicated, concept that is in desperate need of actionable, day-to-day living suggestions.

It makes sense to figure it out. Who the fuck wants suffering in this world after all?

The hardest part for me in figuring out this suffering-laden-attachment is the deep, painful love I feel for my soulmate Sus and our daughter Daya.

I say painful because I can’t personally think of a greater suffering than the loss of one’s greatest loves. Indeed, the fear of that loss is a whole other realm of suffering altogether, the slow burning kind.

When you are lucky enough to experience a love so profoundly integrated into your spiritual being, it comes naturally with the flip side of crippling fear and anxiety.

I don’t like that fear and anxiety.

I think it makes me a shittier spouse and father.

It makes it harder to love with a true nurturing spirit. Because it ultimately draws back into that corrupted masculine need for control, for power to influence the lives of others.

And when I connect that to attachment, occasionally my eyes open a crack.

I’m attached to the security my loved ones bring me.

I’m attached to being needed by beautiful souls.

I’m attached to feeling like a self-righteous prick because I try in vain to fulfill all those needs.

I’m attached to the natural inter-dependency of family.

I’m attached to the health and longevity of my loved ones.

I’m attached to social norms, with nominal rebelliousness, of what perfect families ought to be like.

I’m attached to others seeing my loved ones as awesome people.

I’m attached to the easy sense of meaning and fulfillment that comes from being a committed spouse and father.

I’m attached to the respect I get from being a “family man”.

I’m attached to being able to say to the world and myself that I have real love in my life.

I’m attached to the envy it generates in people who aren’t as lucky.

I don’t know…

Maybe trying to love and nurture without attachment might just make me a less selfish asshole who can stay the fuck in the present, and be grateful for the love without getting his undies in a twist.

Training Diary, Week 1 – What is it about combat sports and athletic endeavors for me?

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Sunday.

Rest day.

After grunting my way through two-a-days for 6 days, I’m happy for a rest day. The body is sore, and the mind is figuring out how to get motivated to repeat the 12 workout-goal for the week ahead, starting with maybe some roadwork and shadow boxing Monday morning.

I’m trying to lead the life of a legitimate athlete right now. I’ve set myself some fairly difficult athletic goals to keep myself motivated because it’s hard as fuck and I don’t know why I’m trying to put my body through this. I work full time and have the most amazing family to care for. I could just exercise a little bit every day to stay fit and call it a day.

But there is something in me that I’m trying to find in the athletic grind. It’s a pain-filled journey that calls to me. A lactic-acid-flooded path I must navigate.

Right now, its boxing, which I hope to expand to other endeavors as well. I’ve had a love for combat sports as long as I can remember. I think there’s a rawness to the competition that makes it unique. Yeah, two white dudes can grunt for four hours tapping a ball back and forth across a net and call it competition, but everyone knows that the fear of getting legitimately hurt in a fist fight adds an edge to things in a way that just can’t be replicated in other athletic endeavors.

In all likelihood, my own inexplicable predilection for combat sports has something to do with toxic masculinity and getting the ever loving shit kicked out of me as a kid. In my current situation as an immigrant man of color married to a white woman and nurturing an inter-racial family in alt-right-influenced America, I guess it’s also a way of blowing off some steam.

The endorphins you get from the training sessions are pretty cool too.

So, I’ve decided to dive headlong into it for a bit.

The last time I lived like a part-time athlete was over two decades ago, when I was 15-16, training for the 400-800 like someone possessed. Two-a-day workouts. Competition. Dreams of Olympic stardom. The works.

Then I had to throw it all away to focus on my studies. I guess I’m happy I did so. A decent, fulfilling career in health and social services. A condo in Toronto. A house in Minneapolis. Both nice, progressive cities with diverse populations. Family fairly well set. Easy, fulfilling job now. Pretty sweet life with loved ones, friends, beer, and weed.

What more could a man ask for at the age of 38?

That’s where unrequited childhood dreams of athletic glory come in to keep one from going soft.

And week 1 was successfully, albeit painfully, completed.

Whoop dee fucking doo for soreness.

Honorable MMA training buddies wanted in Twin Cities area

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This is an earnest call out for honorable MMA training buddies in the Twin Cities area.

I’m a 38 year old, lifelong martial artist who honors the core values of love, freedom, and humanity – an educator and counselor by profession, who’s obsessed with mixed martial arts.

I’m of the belief that fighting – as in unarmed fighting – is in our DNA. We come out of the womb punching, kicking, and screaming, covered in blood, shit, and goo.

Fighting with our bare hands has been present as a sport with every culture on earth, through the ages. (My own goes back to Adithada and Mustiyuddha from millennia gone by).

MMA, despite its myriad limitations and drawbacks, is the closest we’ve gotten in sporting terms to unarmed combat in this current modern epoch.

Indeed, I believe part of the reason for my own obsession with MMA is because it’s the sport that comes closest to unarmed combat today. Like many reading this, I have faced violence in my past and was drawn to martial arts as a kid for both the right and wrong reasons. I’m trying very hard now to walk the path of an honorable warrior who puts his best foot forward for his family, community of loved ones, and the earth we live in.

One of the things I do to achieve that is a daily dose of conditioning tailored for MMA. I train for a half hour every day (in addition to watching what I eat, participating in activities that feed my soul, and trying to develop a sharp mind).

My half hour of conditioning work usually consists of fairly intense shadow boxing, sprawls, squats, lunges, monkey hops, striking combos (punches, elbows, knees, kicks), constant foot movement, and core/back work, while focusing on breathing, balance, and volume. In addition, and as often as I can, I bike, walk, do pushups/squats, dance with my kid, and occasionally workout on a long bag or a ground n pound bag. I’m fit, athletic, and quite strong; 5 feet 10 inches tall, walking around at ~155 pounds. I think conditioning is the most important physical, mental, and spiritual part of being a fighter. I also believe it should should be the first step for any martial artist and conducted lifelong as a daily grind with endorphin yummies for reward.

I’ve been to gyms before and have trained/sparred, but currently cannot commit to one. I’m a working man and my first commitment is my family, thus all the money we make goes towards the mortgage and family needs. In other words, I don’t currently have the resources to join a proper MMA gym.

Instead I was hoping to find some training buddies in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area who might want to meet once or twice a week, or more, to workout together and, eventually, spar together (ensuring proper safety, rules, intensity levels, and honor bound codes of conduct, of course).

Initially, I’m imagining just doing conditioning workouts together, discussing sparring ideas, and ways to lead honorable lives as warriors (no jokes, I think that shit’s important to growing as a martial artist). My ultimate plan is to get a good conditioning workout for a half hour and then maybe a few rounds of sparring for a half hour, with protective gear and low to medium intensity…so no crazy haymakers and then gassing in a minute and a half…I’m learning from past mistakes 😉

I’m seeking a symbiotic, supportive relationship to get better as fighters and live more honorable lives as warriors. It is thus absolutely vital that my training buddies also honor the deeper core values I’ve mentioned above of love, freedom, and humanity. The relationships we build are more important than our relative fighting skills or lack thereof. Martial arts, and MMA in particular, unfortunately attracts a lot of alpha-male-type assholes drowning in toxic masculinity. If you are sexist, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, or an intolerant bigot in any way, I do not want to hear from you as you are not a true martial artist and have strayed far from the path of the honorable warrior (no matter how awesome a fighter you might be). However, if you smiled at that last sentence, please do get in touch.

It’s easier for me to get my ass kicked in workouts and sparring by a fellow warrior whom I respect and care for and I’m hoping it’s the same for you. I also wish to emphasize that you don’t need to have prior martial arts experience – like i said, I truly believe fighting is in our DNA (and we’ve all fought or had our butts wupped in real life). All we need is a willingness to sweat, learn, and help one another get better at life. Maybe we can even document our ongoing success and failures on forums like this.

Finally, I’m also keen on exploring other warrior arts and skills apart from just combat sports – shit that might come in increasing use as our societies crumble for better or worse. You know, shit like hunting, sustainable living, bartering cooperatives, and organic permaculture. I just think doing strength and conditioning work for combat sports and sparring together is a great way to start. My ultimate (pipe) dream is to see this grow magically into a non hierarchical, anti-oppressive, warrior society based on love, freedom, and humanity.

Whatever…costs nothing to smoke up and dream after a workout.

Seriously though, if what you just read spoke to you, and you live in and around the Twin Cities, I’d love to hear from you. Text or email me please and we can chat.

kind regards and much peace,

Shree Varuna

612-636-9895

forthematriarchy@gmail.com

 

Towards a healthy engagement with monotony

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Life truly is a series of standout moments. Many of them in fact – all floating in a sea of monotonous reproduction in between.

I think we live in a culture that is consumed by an unquenchable desire, and thus unquestioning laboring, for the highlightable moments in life. Our pop culture is replete with neatly packaged moments – good, bad and everything else – that we are told constitute a life we ought to lead.

But we’re not culturally attuned to figuring out the monotony in between. (For starters, it would make for really, really boring television.)

The very fact that I call it monotony – as opposed to, say, journey, which I’ve been told might be a healthier way of looking at it – is a bit of an indicator already. Monotony means repetition, and repetition is a surefire path to boredom in this world of ours, dominated as it is by pop culture soundbites.

I’m not great with monotony for this reason. It’s the reason that one of my greatest life endeavors has been to entertain myself during the monotonous tasks often required for the sustenance of life and love – the monotony of taking care of business so to speak. I do believe this somewhat unhealthy relationship with monotony has been one of the reasons I have struggled in the past with alcohol and cigarettes as coping measures.

Monotony reminds us of the moments that constitute our life across the multiverse and the myriad timelines we exist in – good and bad. It is in getting mindful during the vast spaces of monotony in one’s life that I believe I might get a healthier engagement with those unforgettable moments – timeless joy from the good and endless strength from the bad.

Thus, in an effort to understand life better I am realizing the need to engage with the monotony of life just as much as I seek glorious mile markers. For it is indeed the boring and non-scintillating activities that are necessary for the sustenance and nurturing of loved ones who make those moments of true joy possible.

I believe a major factor in getting to a state of mental, emotional, and spiritual flow – not delirious joy and happiness but rather a baseline state of fairly mundane satisfaction – is a healthy engagement with monotony and boring activities.

Among other things I can think of that help in this regard is understanding the hidden good side to monotonous life activities (apart from any plant-based intoxicants that serve as reward that is).

And here’s what I think that good side is:

It’s safe to say that if one is engaged in these activities then it likely means there isn’t acute stress or pain in one’s life at that very moment. This might change in the future (or you might access pain from your past), but when your life is at a state where you are regularly engaging in day-to-day boring-ass shit, it is a likely indicator that your life isn’t in any immediate danger and that a relative amount of safety is present.

It’s a good thing to remember in this dance with our demons…

 

Love is loss…beautiful, gut-wrenching loss

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Is love possible without the inevitability of loss?

Can true bliss ever be appreciated without pain?

Are we doomed (or blessed?) to forever navigate our lives suspended between joy and suffering?

These are rhetorical questions of course. We know the answers, but we often choose to be blind to vast portions of truth that throb in our hearts and minds. We want infinite love and never-ending joy while succumbing to the linearity of time. We want the happily-ever-after, but without the inevitable ending and regeneration of this earthly life.

They are the demons we fear.

He was out roaming the streets, free and happy. Roaming around the neighborhood and community we all loved, visiting his friends, knowing there was a loving home that would always wait for him.

That fateful night his body was taken away from him by a speeding car, a symbol of humanity’s callousness for the earthen life that sustains us all. That night was when we as a family faced our first (but certainly not last) devastating blow. That night, pain became our eternal companion.

And the questions started pouring in as we held each other, drenched in one another’s tears:

How can life be so cruel?

Why did he have to be taken away from us so soon?

What did we do wrong?

Hell, what’s the bloody point of it all?

The questions are a pitiful exercise in pain management I suppose. The dance with the demons we’re all invited to join, that nobody seeks.

Aye, but here’s the rub…

Deep down, we – his loved ones – don’t want that pain to go away.

For that’s the point of love. It is in pain and loss that love achieves its ultimate realization. It is the gut-wrenching beauty of love. We need those demons. They look fearsome but in reality they are our truest and dearest confidantes.

So all we ask now is that he stay free and happy.

Cos the demons tell me he’ll always be with us…

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[Rumi poozy, I love you more than life itself and I always will. My brother and best friend – you’ve given me more joy than I could ever repay. I got some things to take care of in this life – you know love needs nurturing – but I can’t wait to roam this universe with you and Vaddu. Stay awesome.]