Category Archives: Racism

Discrimination against people of color

May Day, May Day!

[Image: Protesters stand in the street, fists raised and chanting, holding a banner reading “Unite Here – All races – All religions – All immigrants.”]

The phrase “May Day” has a number of meanings. It is associated with spring festivals, the pagan Beltane holiday, and International Workers’ Day. When uttered three times in a row, “Mayday” signals an emergency situation.

An emergency situation is exactly how I’ve come to see the presidency of Donald Trump. My ire and disgust at the tens of millions of US-Americans who voted for this man has turned into real fear that this incompetent bigot will not only set back civil rights by several decades, but actually start a world war.  Thus, despite my flagging energy, I continue to attend protests and document the resistance.

May Day SF protest[Image: Protesters holding large signs stand in an intersection, blocking traffic.]

On Monday, I attended two demonstrations in San Francisco, out of many protests, rallies, and marches that occurred throughout the country. The first was outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building. When I arrived about twenty minutes before the 8 a.m. scheduled start time, only a handful of people were milling around. But that quickly changed, and soon all of the streets around the building were filled with sign-carrying activists.

May Day SF protest[Image: Protesters sit on the sidewalk with arms linked in front of the ICE driveway.]

May Day SF protest[Image: Activists sit in front of the ICE driveway, holding a large banner reading “No ban no raids no wall”.]

Some of the protesters sat on the sidewalk with arms linked, blocking the driveways to the ICE buildings so that buses carrying immigrants about to be deported could not leave. There was no violence and no arrests, though police (and police observers) were definitely present and watching.

May Day SF protest[Image: Protesters paint a large circle with the word “Resist” in the middle of the intersection.]

May Day SF protest[Image: Protesters paint a large circle with the words “Resist” and “No Wall” in the middle of the intersection.]

A number of those present, including several children, helped paint a large circle in the middle of the intersection, with the word “Resist” in the middle and “No Ban No Wall” around the outside.

May Day SF protest[Image: The Aztec ceremonial dance group Danza Xitlalli‎ performs at the demonstration.]

The Aztec ceremonial dance group Danza Xitlalli‎, who I’ve seen at many local events, performed during the demonstration.

May Day SF protest[Image: Activists speak from atop a truck at the demonstration.]

Several people spoke from the truck that served as a stage. One was very emotional about her sister who had been detained by immigration authorities.

After an hour and a half or so at this rally, I headed over to nearby Justin Herman Plaza to take a break before the start of another rally and march. Danza Xitlalli‎ performed again, and then the group from the first rally marched into the plaza.

May Day SF protest[Image: Protesters march into Justin Herman Plaza, carrying large signs and a banner reading “Sanctuary for all”.]

The rally featured a number of speakers, including several members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. As with the March for Science last month, the plaza was soon completely filled with people.

May Day SF protest[Image: A crowd of people fills Justin Herman Plaza.]

May Day SF protest[Image: May Day marchers head up Market Street from the Ferry Building.]

At noon we made our way out to Market Street for the march to Civic Center. I made it as far as Powell Street this time before bailing out due to fatigue and the unseasonable heat. Before heading home, I paused at the cable car turnaround to take some photos of the oncoming marchers. Upon spotting my camera, one of the marchers flipped their sign around and made sure that I saw it:

May Day SF protest[Image: A May Day marcher holds a sign reading “Impeach the racist, lying, abuser, terrorist occupying the White House.”]

I nodded in solidarity and agreement.

My full set of photos from the protest is available on Flickr. Some of the photos are also on Wikimedia Commons, alongside photos uploaded by others. Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of my photos, thanks!

Day Without a Woman

[Image: London Breed, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, speaks at City Hall for A Day Without a Woman.]

Yesterday I attended a rally at San Francisco City Hall for A Day Without a Woman, an event created by Women’s March organizers to coincide with International Women’s Day. The peaceful gathering included an hour of speakers, starting with an invocation from Kanyon Sayers-Roods (aka Coyote Woman), who reminded us that we were standing on Ohlone land.

Kanyon Sayers-Roods (aka Coyote Woman) [Image: Kanyon Sayers-Roods (aka Coyote Woman) speaks at City Hall for Day Without a Woman.]

Several of the speakers were from the currently majority-female San Francisco Board of Supervisors, including board president London Breed and board members Katy Tang, Hillary Ronen, and Sandra Lee Fewer.

London Breed at Day Without a Woman[Image: London Breed, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, speaks at City Hall for Day Without a Woman.]

Katy Tang at Day Without a Woman[Image: Katy Tang, member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, speaks at City Hall for Day Without a Woman.]

While it was great to see representation from women of color in high positions, this event has been criticized for focusing on the mostly-white women who are privileged enough to take the day off. In that respect, it was good that one of the speakers was Maria Trujilo, a Latina janitor from SEIU United Service Workers West. Unfortunately, I could only see her translator when Maria was at the podium, as the sound monitor was lifted up there in an (unsuccessful) attempt to boost the volume, blocking many of the subsequent speakers from view. I did manage to catch a photo of Maria and the next speaker, Maya Malika from Refuse Fascism, off to the side.

Maria Trujilo and Maya Malika at Day Without a Woman[Image: Maria Trujilo of SEIU United Service Workers West raises her fist. Next to her is Maya Malika of Refuse Fascism.]

Other than the sound problems and lack of ASL translation, the event was successful, with a turnout of over a thousand people. The beautiful sunny weather (in contrast to the pouring rain on the weekend of the Women’s March) no doubt helped, though I’m sure many women who would have liked to attend were unable to leave work, childcare, or other duties.

Women in red at Day Without a Woman[Image: A woman and young girl, both dressed in red, sit on the steps of City Hall for Day Without a Woman.]

Crowd at Day Without a Woman[Image: The crowd at Day Without a Woman fills the sidewalk and street next to San Francisco City Hall.]

Day Without a Woman attendees[Image: Day Without a Woman attendees hold a sign reading “Not a paid protester – If I were would I make 78 cents for every $1 too?”]

I’ve posted my full set of photos of the event to Flickr. I’ve also posted some of the photos to Wikimedia Commons (alongside photos from other contributors). Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks!

Quietly overwhelmed

I’ve been pretty quiet online this month for a number of reasons.

I still haven’t adjusted to the fact that over 60 million of my fellow US-Americans elected Donald Trump to be our president. I cannot look at that man’s face on my computer or television screen without feeling dismay and sinking despair. Attending and photographing protest after protest has not really done anything to help address these feelings.

I am also having personal difficulties regarding gender transition and other issues. Most of these issues are not really new from what I’ve blogged about in the past. Though there have been a number of trans-related developments in the news that I could write about, these tend to depress me further as they are mostly negative. (ETA: OK, “mostly negative” is probably an overstatement, but the Trump administration’s recent withdrawal of guidance that provided protections for trans students looms largest in my mind.)

Regardless, I don’t feel much like blogging when I don’t get much feedback on my posts. But if I turn comments back on or resume posting on Facebook, I will subject myself to harassment and micro-aggressions that I’m not equipped to handle right now. I’m not talking about genuine criticism, but racist and trans-antagonistic attacks.

I have still been active on Wikipedia at least, contributing several articles to this month’s Black Women Online Editathon. I’ve also submitted a proposal for the annual Wikimania conference, taking place in Montreal this August. I’ve switched my DuoLingo language preference to French to try to pick up a bit of that language before visiting the Francophone province of Quebec.

But mostly, I’ve been overwhelmed and trying to escape the world with television and video games. After finishing watching every episode of The Jeffersons, I began watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show after that actress died last month. And after growing bored and frustrated with the bugs in the latest version of The Sims, I started playing a new game, Stardew Valley, which I’ve been thoroughly engrossed in for the last two weeks. I might blog about it from an animal rights perspective at some point.

So I am still alive, but not well. Although I’ve turned off comments, I am still reachable by e-mail if anyone would like to send a friendly note.

No Ban, No Wall

[Image: A group of immigration rally attendees hold signs reading “Refugees Are Welcome Here!” and “No Ban No Wall”.]

On Saturday I attended a protest of the executive order limiting U.S. immigration for the purported reason of “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States. While it was no surprise to many that Trump would attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to ban Muslims, protests occurred throughout the country, especially at airports, after he signed the order. I missed the large protests at SFO the previous weekend, but then found out about this rally at Civic Center, which was reported on before, during, and after in local news media.

Rally organizers on stage[Image: Organizers Dex Torricke-Barton, Camilia Razavi, Arya Aliabadi, and Kayla Razavi begin the rally.]

The event was organized by a handful of individuals rather than a formal group, and they did a reasonably good job, securing a stage, sound system, and multiple volunteers acting as security. They emphasized that this was to be a peaceful rally, as many were nervous following the violent outbreak that forced the cancellation of a Milo Yiannopoulos speech at UC Berkeley last week (which made national headlines). But that was a completely different situation, where black bloc protesters came in to disrupt an unrepentant bigot who had already been banned in venues, including Twitter, worldwide. San Francisco representatives have been outspoken in support of immigration, so there would be little cause for that kind of a demonstration at City Hall.

Respect Immigrants or Expect Resistance[Image: A rally attendee holds a sign reading “Respect Immigrants or Expect Resistance”.]

Speakers included immigrants and children of immigrants. Many spoke about their love for this country and our (supposed) values. I wasn’t too enthused by this, preferring the more radical tone of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition rallies I’ve attended. One of the speakers, new San Francisco supervisor Ahsha Safaí, suggested that we not continue the protests of Uber, but instead encourage companies like them to contribute matching funds, and only delete their apps if they don’t comply. I wasn’t thrilled with Uber even before Trump’s inauguration, personally; this is the sort of capitalist apologism that wouldn’t likely occur at an A.N.S.W.E.R. rally.

Resist[Image: A rally attendee holds a sign reading “Resist”.]

There was some criticism on the event’s Facebook page that too many speakers were from the tech industry and government, and that no ASL interpretation was provided, which were valid concerns. Regardless, I appreciated that the event was organized by and centered people of color and people of Muslim heritage. A number of people in the crowd carried the flag of Yemen, one of the seven countries affected by the immigration ban.

Yemeni flag[Image: A child holding the flag of Yemen sits on an adult’s shoulders at the rally.]

Protest signs and flags[Image: Rally attendees hold protest signs and the flag of Yemen.]

The rally continued for a full three hours (as scheduled), but I left halfway through, as I needed to rest and relax before running a half-marathon the following morning. Protests are certain to continue, despite a federal judge putting a temporary stop to the travel ban. I said the day after the election that this would not be a peaceful transition of power, and I meant it; I expect massive unrest in the coming weeks, months, and years, for as long as the Trump administration remains in power.

My full set of photos from the event is available on Flickr. Some photos are also available (alongside those of other contributors) on Wikimedia Commons. Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of my photos, thanks!

People over pipelines

[Image: A protester holds up a sign reading “People over pipelines” during a sit-in outside the San Francisco Federal Building.]

Last night I attended a protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL Pipeline, in the wake of Donald Trump reviving construction on those projects. The action was co-sponsored by the Native American-led group Idle No More SF Bay and a number of their allies, including 350.org, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, Diablo Rising Tide, Rainforest Action Network, Chinese Progressive Association, Do No Harm Coalition, and others.

Stop DAPL[Image: Protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline hold signs and banners.]

Signs against pipelines[Image: Protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL Pipeline hold signs and banners.]

Protesters gathered outside the San Francisco Federal Building just south of Market Street, where many of the same signs and banners that were used at the November Stand with Standing Rock action (organized by the same group) were provided. As with that earlier rally, I focused on taking photos of the crowd rather than the speakers, as some of the people in the November ceremony said they didn’t want to be photographed.

Stand with Standing Rock[Image: Protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline hold signs and candles.]

NoDAPL NoKXL[Image: A protester against the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL Pipeline holds a candle and a sign reading “The water will rise and so will we!!”]

The rally featured singing and a number of speakers from different groups. They noted that they wanted to de-emphasize Trump, and talk more about the indigenous people and positive actions to take to protect the people and the Earth.

Climate chaos[Image: Protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL Pipeline fill the plaza at the San Francisco Federal Building. An image projected onto the building reads “Oil, Coal, Gas = Climate Chaos”.]

Water protector sit-in[Image: Protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL Pipeline hold a sit-in in the street.]

Water protector sit-in[Image: Protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL Pipeline hold a sit-in in the street.]

After over an hour of speakers, we were directed to sit in the street for several minutes, attempting to fill the entire block outside the Federal Building. While this was suggested as “practice” for future occasions where activists might be arrested, police were cooperative for this action. As I was leaving, a did hear one officer warn a straggler that they must now get out of the street. I didn’t stay around to see if there were any arrests.

Knowing what the water protectors in North Dakota have endured at the hands of the police, I couldn’t help thinking about an article by Ijeoma Oluo in response to Women’s March participants bragging that there were no arrests at their event. Not everyone is in a position to risk arrest and imprisonment, but more disruption will be necessary for positive social change.

Regardless, I’m glad I attended this event, even though it was on short notice. (Though I’m still generally avoiding Facebook, event invitations are one of the few notifications I haven’t opted out of receiving via e-mail.) I had originally planned to attend another pipeline protest scheduled for this Saturday, but decided to go to last night’s instead as it was sponsored by a native-led group. I appreciated that the organizers of Saturday’s protest acknowledged the indigenous leadership of the #NoDAPL movement, and made changes to their event accordingly.

My photos from the protest are available on Flickr. Some are also on Wikimedia Commons. Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks. And if you enjoy my photography and have the means, please sponsor or tip me so I can upgrade my camera equipment!

Rising in dissent

[Image: Protesters fill United Nations Plaza at dusk.]

The dreadful occasion has come to pass: Donald Trump has been inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. What more can I say about this man and the people who voted for him that I haven’t already said? I’ve had to suppress much of my anger, disgust, and fear just to remain functional.

But I cannot simply ignore the impact this transfer of power is likely to have on tens of millions of marginalized people, including myself. So I went beyond my comfort zone this week to attend three crowded San Francisco protests on three consecutive days.

Ghostlight Project SF[Image: A crowd fills the lobby of the Geary Theater in San Francisco, holding the lit screens of their cell phones aloft.]

Thursday’s event, The Ghostlight Project, was more of a solidarity rally than a protest. People gathered at theaters throughout the country to express inclusion, protection, and compassion. The space inside and outside the American Conservatory Theater on Geary Street was completely packed. I was overwhelmed and unable to get good photos, unfortunately, but formal photos were taken and should be available on the event’s web site.

Ziggy at Trump protest[Image: Ziggy looks down from a truck, with anti-Trump posters and an I.A.T.S.E. Local 16 banner.]

On Friday, the day of the inauguration, there were protests all day long throughout the country (and abroad). I chose to attend the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition rally at United Nations Plaza in the evening. Ziggy volunteered to run sound for it (his union, I.A.T.S.E. Local 16, supported the protests), and ended up being drafted into running sound for their morning action as well.

Rainy Trump protest[Image: A protester stands under an umbrella with “Not My President” and “Resist” written on it. ]

The weather was stormy, with intermittent sudden downpours. Some protesters got clever, with messaging written directly on their umbrellas. Having learned my lesson from being drenched at a previous A.N.S.W.E.R. rally, I wore rain pants in addition to my jacket this time. (Holding an umbrella isn’t practical while operating a professional camera!)

Rainy Trump protest[Image: A protester holds a sign reading “My melanin is not a threat.”]

Rainy Trump protest[Image: Protesters hold signs reading “Fight white supremacy” and “Fight back against sexism, homophobia, war & racism”.]

Rainy Trump protest[Image: Speakers stand under an umbrella. One holds a sign in Spanish, calling for an end to the fascist Trump/Pence regime.]

As with that previous rally, I appreciated that the speakers and attendees (judging from the signage) emphasized that capitalism and white supremacy were the real problems to be overcome; this wasn’t just a pity party for Democrats or Hillary Clinton supporters. I was disappointed that there were not more black folks on the stage, however.

At the end of the rally, the emcee announced that they would be marching to the Castro and the Mission, but I headed on home. I wanted to save my energy for the Women’s March on Saturday.

Women's March SF[Image: The crowd at the Women’s March fills the San Francisco Civic Center.]

When I arrived at the Women’s March half an hour before the 3 p.m. rally start time, the area in front of and to the sides of the stage at UN Plaza was already packed. I tried to take refuge under a tree to the side of the stage, but people kept climbing it for a better view, and I narrowly avoided being kicked in the head several times.

I eventually gave up on watching the speakers, and moved behind the stage to try to get some breathing room. In the over 13 years I’ve lived in San Francisco, I’ve never seen such crowds; not at Pride, not at a Giants victory parade. I read later that an estimated 100,000 people attended; over two million attended “sister marches” worldwide. Though I was stressing out from the crowds,  the energy was amazing.

Women's March SF[Image: Women’s March attendees hold a banner reading “Love Trumps Hate”.]

Women's March SF[Image: A Women’s March attendee holds a sign reading “Girls just wanna have fun…damental rights.”]

SF City Hall in pink[Image: San Francisco City Hall, lit in pink for the Women’s March.]

Ziggy, who ran a half-marathon that morning but still had plenty of energy, joined me a bit later. We took refuge for awhile at the nearby Opera House, where he works, and I took a few photos from the parapet. He convinced me to come back out for the march itself, as it was such an important and historic occasion. We made our way down Market Street to Justin Herman Plaza in a steady rain, thronged by thousands of people chanting and cheering.

Women's March SF[Image: Women’s March attendees stand under umbrellas holding candles. One holds a sign reading “Truth is now a defiant act!”]

So what is next for the resistance? Marches and rallies are important to show solidarity, but I can’t help remembering what one speaker at a rally against police violence said: “This is not the work.” More radical action will be needed to actually dismantle white supremacy. I cannot support violence, but I don’t know what alternatives to suggest. I will be keeping my eyes and ears open for practical solutions.

My photos from this week’s events—The Ghostlight Project, The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition rally, and the Women’s March—are available on Flickr. Some are available on Wikimedia Commons as well. Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks.

MLK Day march and interfaith ceremony

[Image: A large group of people, many carrying signs, marches down a San Francisco street.]

This Monday I attended a march and interfaith ceremony to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. As the web site where I originally found out about the activities had incomplete information, I missed the start of the march at the Caltrain Depot, but met up with the group a few blocks later as they approached the Lefty O’Doul Bridge.

MLK Day march[Image: Marchers hold signs and wear T-shirts showing the face of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the words “AIDS is a civil rights issue.”]

MLK Day march[Image: MLK Day marchers cross the Lefty O’Doul bridge.]

MLK Day march[Image: MLK Day marchers enter Yerba Buena Gardens.]

The march ended at Yerba Buena Gardens, where the San Francisco Interfaith Council hosted a ceremony. One of the speakers was Mayor Ed Lee, who has been booed at a number of San Francisco events owing (partly) to the gentrification and racist police violence in this city. In contrast, this time he was received with applause when he called out “I am you! You are me!” to the crowd, and made a stand against Donald Trump.

Though I appreciated the latter, as San Francisco officials have made it clear that we will be a sanctuary city, I didn’t particularly care for the “I am you” statement. Mayor Lee is a person of color, but he is not black. As an act of allyship to black people on a holiday recognizing one of our own, “I am for you” might have been a more appropriate (if still debatable, in his case) statement. I also don’t think he should have marched at the very front of the parade.

The regrettable (but predictable) whitewashing of Martin Luther King Jr. as a peaceful* unifier of all races, while downplaying his radical activism, was emphasized in the ReclaimMLK actions I attended last year. You can even see the whitewashed message in this year’s MLK Google Doodle, which shows a group of stylized people of different colors holding hands, rather than an image of King himself. (At least the doodle was created by a black artist, Keith Mallett.)

Between the “unity” message and the religious nature of the ceremony at Yerba Buena, I was regretting not attending this year’s ReclaimMLK march in Oakland instead. (Only black and brown people were invited to be in the front of last year’s march.)

MLK interfaith ceremony[Image: A speaker at a podium on an outdoor stage holds a sign reading “Make Love Known”.]

Crowd at Yerba Buena[Image: A crowd of people at Yerba Buena Gardens watches the ceremony.]

MLK interfaith ceremony[Image: A singer on an outdoor stage lifts their arm to the sky.]

Regardless, the ceremony had bright spots. One strong singer led us in multiple verses (in between other speakers) of “We Shall Overcome”, with the lyrics changed from “someday” to “today”. Two mothers spoke of losing their sons to violence. One little girl gave a speech with such a powerful voice that she got a standing ovation.

MLK interfaith ceremony[Image: Reverend Amos C. Brown speaks on an outdoor stage.]

As I wandered away from the stage, fatigued and tired of jockeying for position with another photographer, I heard another powerful voice speaking. I came back to hear Reverend Dr. Amos C. Brown, a student of Dr. King. I later recalled Brown as a friend to the LGBT+ community; I photographed him at another interfaith ceremony in June 2013, on the day Californians achieved same-sex marriage equality.

MLK interfaith ceremony[Image: Reverend Amos C. Brown speaks on an outdoor stage.]

Rev. Brown spoke about a black woman who “had the nerve” to tell him that Donald Trump was a good person who should be respected, in part because he played basketball with some black kids in Harlem. He said that woman needed to “come and sit at his feet” and learn a thing or two. (Aside from the sexism of a woman sitting at a man’s feet, I agreed with the sentiment.)

MLK interfaith ceremony[Image: A group of people stand and sing together on an outdoor stage.]

MLK quote[Image: The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. engraved into a wall: “No. No, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.’]

After the ceremony, festivities continued with music and other events, but I didn’t have the energy to stick around. Before leaving, I did wander over to read some of the words under the beautiful Martin Luther King Memorial waterfall, a key feature of the Gardens.

My full set of images from the event is available on Flickr. Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks!

* I am a pacifist, but pacifism should not be confused with passivity. I support radical actions.

My 2016 in review

[Image: Pax Ahimsa Gethen | queer * black * trans * vegan * atheist | blogger * photographer | social justice | gender & animal liberation | pronouns: they * them * their]

This has been a difficult year for me emotionally. I know that applies to many, many others, considering the particular horrors of the election season. But my struggle with depression started decades earlier, and was only worsened by a growing awareness of the scope of violence in the world.

Still, I want to focus on the positive in this post. So here are some personal accomplishments that I can look back on with pride.

Public speaking

Pax at Vegan Soul Wellness Fest[Image: Pax speaks at a podium at the Vegan Soul Wellness Festival. Photo by Wayne Calhoon.]

I gave formal presentations at three events this year: The Intersectional Justice Conference in March, the Vegan Soul Wellness Festival in September, and WikiConference North America in October. I also spoke on a panel at the inaugural Bay Area WikiSalon, and on panels of trans and non-binary people on three occasions to graduate therapy students.

Photography

Bonfire Madigan at Rock Against the TPP[Image: Madigan Shive of Bonfire Madigan plays cello at Rock Against The TPP.]

I took photos at over 30 events this year, and contributed hundreds of images to Wikimedia Commons.  I reached one million views of my photos on Flickr. I continued to get new sponsors on Patreon to support my photography and writing.

Writing/editing

HuffPost - Journey Beyond Binary[Image: Headshot of Pax next to the words “Journey Beyond Binary – Huff Post”. Photo by Ziggy Tomcich, text by the Huffington Post.]

I posted 119 blog entries (including this one) this year. I cross-posted a few of them to Medium, and wrote a few original posts on that platform as well. One of my blog entries was featured in The Huffington Post.

I greatly increased my activity on Wikipedia, creating 16 new articles and making over 100 edits a month since May (putting me into the category of “highly active” editors). Speaking at the North American conference and getting my user page protection initiative implemented mean far more to me than my edit count, however.

Activism

Rally against racist police[Image: An attendee at a rally against racist police stands with fist raised in the air.]

BLACK VEGANS ROCK POSTER-cropped[Image: Black Vegans Rock poster, designed by EastRand Studios.]

I attended a number of rallies and protests, in support of Black Lives Matter and the LGBT+ community, and in condemnation of police brutality and white supremacy. I photographed them all, so you can find them through my photography tag.

My animal rights activism this year has been focused primarily on helping my friend Aph Ko out with Black Vegans Rock, which is about to celebrate its one year anniversary. I’ve been updating the Instagram page daily since July, and have helped out with the web site a bit as well.

Music

I attended Eli Conley‘s LGBT-focused class Singing with Instruments, and performed in October for the first time since my voice began noticeably changing, over two years ago. (No video or high-quality photos available, but I sang and played piano to Where’s the Orchestra? by Billy Joel.)

Running

Pax running at Crissy Field[Image: Pax runs while smiling and making a “V” sign with their fingers. Photo by Ziggy.]

I competed in six races this year: Two 5Ks, two 10Ks, a 12K, and a half-marathon.

Miscellaneous

DuoLingo Spanish trophy[Image: Screenshot of trophy for completing the DuoLingo Spanish “skill tree”.]

I continued my nearly three-year streak (1094 days as of today) on DuoLingo.  (I set the minimum daily number of “points” to 20, so maintaining this streak has required more effort than just checking in for a few seconds a day.) I also finished the Spanish “skill tree”.

Well, that’s about it for 2016. Here’s to a Happy New Year!

Wikipedia, harassment, and inclusivity

I mentioned in a recent entry that I’ve been spending a lot of time editing Wikipedia lately. One of the contributions I’m most proud of is helping to reduce harassment by protecting user pages from editing by anonymous and new users. This change affects every registered user on the site.

The process started with an idea I submitted to the Inspire Campaign in June, which solicited ideas to combat harassment on Wikipedia. The proposal received a lot of support. So with the help of Chris “Jethro” Schilling from the Wikimedia Foundation, I created a Request for Comment (“RfC”) to implement the page protection, which was posted in August. The RfC was closed a month later with consensus to implement protection, which was done via an edit filter on November 30. You can read more about the process in an article by Chris in the Wikipedia newsletter, The Signpost.

While preemptively protecting user pages has been criticized by some as against the “anyone can edit” spirit of Wikipedia, the fact is that user pages are not actually part of the encyclopedia. There’s even a template saying as much, which I and a number of other editors have added to our user pages. As I said in the Signpost article and also mentioned during the most recent Bay Area WikiSalon (see video starting at 47:19), having my user page vandalized with deadnaming and misgendering felt like having hate speech spray painted on my front door. Protecting user pages doesn’t prevent vandalism and stalking elsewhere on Wikipedia and on other sites, but it is an important start.

As an aside, this month’s salon featured prolific Wikipedia editor Jim Heaphy giving a very informative talk about the Teahouse, a welcoming place for new editors. Some members of Jim’s family came along, including Dexter, an adorable Boston Terrier. You can see the rest of my photos from the event on Flickr, as well as on Wikimedia Commons (gallery may include photos from other contributors). Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks.

Dexter the Boston Terrier[Image: Dexter, a brown and white Boston Terrier, sports a colorful sweater.]

The Wikimedia Foundation has indicated that addressing harassment and creating safe spaces for participation—online and off—is a priority, which is encouraging. In addition to combating harassment on Wikipedia, I’ve continued to work on improving the representation of marginalized groups, particularly trans people. Wikipedia has a “Women in Red” project which seeks to address the content gender gap, as fewer than 20% of the biographical articles are about women. This week, I resurrected two articles from that list, both on black women: Debbie Goddard, an atheist and humanist activist; and Monica Roberts, a blogger and trans advocate. Both of these articles had previously been written, but redirected or deleted for lack of notability. I hope that the community allows them to remain this time around.

Stand with Standing Rock - SF[Image: Protesters against the Dakota Access Pipeline march past San Francisco City Hall.]

I’m also pleased that the Wikimedia Foundation has used one of my photos in an article about the Dakota Access Pipeline. I’ve seen this particular photo used on a number of sites around the web, and I feel slightly conflicted about that, since this was of a protest in San Francisco, not at the site of the Standing Rock camp in North Dakota. Still, I am glad to help bring attention to the nationwide protests in solidarity with the indigenous people.

I hope to continue contributing productively to Wikipedia and Wikimedia, as frustrating as the process can be at times. I feel it is a good use of my writing and photography skills, and an opportunity to make a difference in this troubled world.

Black Queer+Trans Love

[Image: Be Steadwell, smiling with arm outstretched, sings into a microphone.]

On Wednesday night I headed to Oakland for Black Queer+Trans Love Uncensored, an open mic and concert put on by Kin Folkz of Spectrum Queer Media (and volunteers). I’d met Kin last year at Black Queer Voices Rising, and many of the performers I saw at that event were at this one as well, including Blackberri,  Jay-Marie Hill, and Thea Matthews.

Kin Folkz[Image: Kin Folkz smiles, standing at a microphone in front of a sign reading (in part): “Spectrum Queer Media – Celebrating LGBTQIA Art”.]

Blackberri[Image: Blackberri sings while playing guitar.]

Jay-Marie Hill[Image: Jay-Marie Hill sings while playing the electric bass. A sticker on the bass reads “Unapologetically Black.”]

Thea Matthews[Image: Thea Matthews speaks into a microphone, wearing a shirt reading “The Black Woman Is God”.]

Thea was part of the Black.Seed queer liberation collective that shut down the Bay Bridge during a Black Lives Matter protest on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She and many of the other participants in the open mic addressed racism and white supremacy.

Be Steadwell[Image: Be Steadwell sings into a microphone.]

The headliner was Be Steadwell, who did a wonderful live looping performance.

I’m really glad spaces like this exist, as queer black folks are double marginalized. While enjoying the performances, I was thinking about a music class I recently attended for queer and trans folks (and our allies). I enjoyed the class and got a lot out of it, but couldn’t help noticing that I was the only black person in the room; out of 12 students, only one other appeared to be non-white.

The teacher of that class, a white trans man, is a great ally to black folks, and no one made me feel uncomfortable or anything. Back in my days of performing whiteness, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed or cared about the whiteness of that space, or any other. But since becoming more “woke”, it is always on my mind. I have more thoughts on this subject, which I’ll share in a future post.

My full set of photos from the event is available on Flickr. Please credit me as Pax Ahimsa Gethen if you use any of them, thanks!