Let’s Just Be Done with the 287(g) Nonsense

Nezua has the GAO press release that states what we all know–the 287(g) program is a mess.  I’d like to believe that maybe it was the combined discovery that our fine Sheriff was shackling pregnant women to their hospital beds and speaking to white supremacist groups that will be the nail in the coffin of this racist bullshit.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed anyway.

I know I said it before, but let me be clear.  The 287(g) program is racist by design.  It is enacted in communities where there is a perception that there are too many brown Spanish-speaking people and the success of the program is measured by a decrease in brown Spanish-speaking people in the community.  There is no way to make it neutral.  It cannot be fixed.  It only works–it only shows success–by singling out Hispanics and visibly decreasing the population.

That is such straight up old school racism–to pick someone out based on the color of her skin in order to subject her to the caprices of law enforcement and to justify it by claiming that people who have that skin color are such notorious law breakers that everyone who has that skin color must be closely monitored and scrutinized–that I almost wonder if it’s allowed to succeed just because of the sheer audacity of the situation.

It is so bold in its racism that I think people’s first reaction is to try to believe that they are not seeing what they are clearly seeing.  They go through all kinds of mental leaps to make sense of it in a way that doesn’t include “I tolerate blatant injustice and evil from my city.”

But as long as Davidson County participates in the 287(g) program, we are tolerating a racist–straight up old school non-academic-definition but real true if you saw it in a movie you’d know the people doing it were the bad guys racist–system.

And if we’re not going to stand up and say, “You know what?  Nobody in this county should have the power to make 1% of the city disappear in two years.” then I hope the Feds step in and put a stop to it.

Edited to add: John Lamb is all over this story with the even more alarming details–that even ICE thinks that how Hall is running our 287(g) program is outside of the bounds of how they intended the program to be run.  And how Hall on the one hand told people he would only target dangerous criminals and how he’s now all “I had no idea the program was only supposed to target dangerous criminals.”

The Tennessean article he links to is really good, too, though the comments make you weep for the state of Civics classes in our school systems.  Guess what, folks?  If some people who get arrested for driving without a license are mildly embarrassed and fined and maybe serve a little jail time and some folks who get arrested for driving without a license are stripped of their families, there’s something fucked up about your judicial system.  A basic tenent of our justice system is that people are not excessively punished and you should be alarmed that some folks’ punishment is 1000 times more severe than other folks.

Update on the Strawberries

I think that the strawberries might not be as dead as they appeared.  I’m going to reserve judgment as the weather warms, but a couple of them have given me reason to believe that they might be willing to perk back up.

And my contact at the Historical Commission has had no luck in locating Macon’s final resting place, but he’s still got a couple of leads he’s following up on.

Oh historians, I want to write a poem to your awesomeness.

The Garden Grows

My dad talked me out of moving the garden.  He can make the pump work and water flow, he claims, and I believe that, if anyone can, he can, so why the hell not?  I call him up to ask his opinion and he immediately launches into how important it is to put the garden where I want to put the garden and to not be afraid that I can’t make it work.  What about the water? I ask and he says, if all else fails, it will rain, Betsy.

And then he tells some stories about some people I don’t know.  I mean, by now, I do, at least, know their names, even if I’m not sure exactly how he knows them or why.  He could just be making up stories; I wouldn’t know.  I hope droning on about people no one knows but you is not a sign of senility, because I will never notice a change.  Ha.

Sometimes he tells stories just to tell them and sometimes I think he has some idea he wants to convey, or not an idea, maybe that’s too strong.  There’s something he wants to pass between us that he can’t articulate and I can’t understand and he hopes, I think, that the stories will be a means of conveyance.  The wrapping paper on something.

The thing about my dad is that he gets things done.  He starts things and finishes them.  I start things and then trust that they will somehow work out without my involvement.  It doesn’t take a genius to see that, with a father who finishes things, that’s true.  I’m learning to be better about it, but we’ll see.

Always waiting to see.  Like if I killed the strawberries or not.  We’ll see.

I have no doubt that he will make the pump work.

So, I guess, we just need to be ready for water.

Oh, I forgot the point of this, which was to say that his brother called him to report that Google still has him living in the little town he lived in two towns ago.  And he wanted to know how he could change that.  And I said “Well, you have to get some stuff on the internet with your right address, then, Dad and leave it where Google can find it.”

“Well, why doesn’t it just know?”

“It’s not omnipotent.”

“Well, doesn’t Google read Tiny Cat Pants?”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“You mean, you don’t use our real names?  You just call us ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’?”

“Yeah.  What did you think?  I was all ‘My parents, whose names are… and who live … suck and you should totally go and tell them?'”

“Well, that would at least mean Google would have my address right.”

Step Carefully

It’s funny how you have three or four different conversations that all seem to come back around to being about the same thing.  And the conversations I’ve had lately are about, in part, how we let language become a gate rather than a bridge.  How can I make you understand me?  How can I understand you?  v. How can you prove you’re on my side?  How can I prove I’m on yours.

I don’t have any great profound thoughts on that.  I just notice it.

It might have been unwise to plant the strawberries while it was still dipping below 32.  Might have.  God.  Just call me Death Thumb.  But I swear, NM, I will get your tomatoes started.  Really.  I don’t kill every plant I touch.

The problem is that, even as cold as it is, it smells like spring all over my neighborhood.  You can smell something about the dirt and damp and rich and ready.

I have to admit, I’m rethinking where to put the garden.  I had thought that putting it clear out back beyond the creek by the greenhouse in the sunny spot was the way to go, but I’ve got to be honest with you, we haven’t done jack shit about getting the well in working order, which means, there’s no easy way to get water out that far.  I’m not even sure, even if the well was in working order, that the pipes out to that part of the yard are still in working order.  So, all in all, how to water out there?  I don’t know.

It would mean moving where we hook the dog up, but I’m kind of thinking of putting it either right between the house and the oak or in front of the Butcher’s art studio.  I’m leaning towards in front of the Butcher’s art studio, but I’m going to have to talk to him about it.  Either way, I want to decide soon and get the ground tilled and the beds ready.

I keep thinking about the systems, the frameworks we operate in.  About how we so readily plug into those roles we know how to play.  You be EmmyLou and I’ll be Gram, as the song says.  And how we work out this bullshit on each other and call it social justice.  When really, it’s theater, evil theater.

I was thinking about this again, reading Chris’s piece over at Grand Divisions.  Sanders says:

That’s the tension. GLBT folks in Tennessee are angry about the demeaning, discriminatory bills we are facing in the Legislature. But if we show anger for even just a moment, we’re suddenly the angry gays. As a minority group in a get-along/go-along culture, we have had to stay in a tight box of appearing gentle, reasonable, polite, perhaps even begging. If we stray out of that box, our words become completely eclipsed.

And there’s a lot more good stuff there.  I encourage you to read the whole post.  But this kind of gets at what I mean.  Here are these roles we play and, like Sanders points out, if you don’t play the good person, you are forced into the role of bad person.

The solution is, obviously, to resist slipping into either role.  To just be yourself genuinely and try to be good to the world and let people reckon with that.

I don’t know.  Somedays I look at this here blog and I think “What difference does this make?” and I want to be honest with you.  I am fucked up and I fuck up and I don’t know as much as I claim to or as much as I should.  Consider the strawberries, if you will.  I don’t see blogging as being necessarily a very good tool for social justice, in and of itself.  But I have good friends I otherwise wouldn’t have had.  I’m sitting in a house a blogger helped me find.  My yard and garden will look how they look because of things we discuss here.

So, I do feel like blogging makes a big difference.  But I also feel like it doesn’t make any difference at all.  And I suspect both things are true.

You just do the best you can, I guess.  And, if it doesn’t work, try again.

So, yeah, I’m leaning towards in front of the shed.  I need to talk to the Butcher about it, though.  It may mean moving the camper.