No this story is not complete, it was difficult enough to write down as it is; as it is an ugly and painful past to relive.
Though these are also some of the reasons I'm still not able to see my child.
And yes, I DO blame the community; as with their support I could have done, and could do, so much more. And yet, here I am still having to fight their white rule. As the predominant theme amidst my detractors is their whiteness, or proximity to it.
While their most powerful tool has been the ease with which the racialization of savagery is accepted by white people and their affiliates.
Mind you, dear reader, there may also be some errors in the timeline -- I've not done the research to learn if I wrote the Predator Activist Storify before or after NOC was shuttered. Nor do I dive into every single action nor organizing instance with which I was ever involved; merely provide a synopsis.
A larger overview of my life events can be experienced at CultureClap.com
# A note before we begin
I recently learned of a term that seems to encapsulate the strategy most often used against me; while my reticence to play the victim myself, preferring to play a champion/survivor, may play into the difficulty others have in treating me as either.
DARVO* is an acronym used to describe a common strategy of abusers.
The abuser will: Deny the abuse ever took place, then Attack the victim for attempting to hold the abuser accountable; then they will lie and claim that they, the abuser, are the real victim in the situation, thus Reversing the Victim and Offender.
# And so we begin ...
My story as an "activist" began circa 1998.
A friend/teammate's mother was very much against the graduation standards that Minnesota was then implementing.
A primary concern was the use of a subtly nefarious question asked of 7th/8th graders in their writing evaluation; the question being, "If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?"
Or something to that effect ...
The answers with which some students replied compelled government authorities to mandate counseling for those students; and this was seen as an overreach of state powers.
It should be noted that this woman was also an avid fan of a little known radio program called "Garage Logic", hosted by one Jason Lewis and Joe Soucheray.
Concurrently, my own adopter was a public school teacher, and every other year, I was a spectator to the conversations around contract negotiations that continually threatened to cut her budget (she was a music teacher.)
# High School
It was an odd time, I was one of two non-white people from the Western Hemisphere in my graduating class; we had a few Black students for a few months, but they always left pretty quickly.
I was a confused little brown boy, though I did have my standards; beyond writing letters to legislators, I stood with the teachers as they protested for better contracts from the school I attended.
And I eventually joined a band as the lead singer, and consequentially, the lyric writer.
The other band members wanted to play hard-rock, and since I am brown, Rage Against the Machine felt appropriate -- and so while we covered Deftones and P.O.D. as well, we became known as a RATM cover-band.
Another high school band formed as well, composed a students a few years younger than us.
They were a punk band, and their lead singer would play a notable role a few years later.
# General College
After high school, I applied to the University of Minnesota and was admitted though General College.
[Sidenote: I also joined a fraternity at this time. The previous president of the fraternity happened to be Senator Paul Wellstones aid, and went down with the Senator in a tragic plane crash that year.]
Here I would also meet an instructor named LeRoy Gardner Jr.
LeRoy has his own storied past, though for me, he was light I'd never known before -- he had integrity and compassion.
Though it wasn't enough to prevent me from making the eventual mistake of dropping out of the U, and running-away to Chicago with a high school sweetheart.
When I returned to Minnesota, General College was fighting for its survival; and I, hoping to return to the U, became embroiled in that fight.
At the time, my then-fiance was pregnant, while I was working at a little known coffee shop called Bob's Java Hut; while trying to attend classes full-time.
Nonetheless, I was brought onto the General College Student Board as an honorary member, providing what strategies I could, and I spoke through the microphone a few times on Northrup Mall.
A Minneapolis council woman also seems to remember a story of us wheat-pasting signs across campus; though I don't recollect the particulars myself.
# The Lost Years of Substance
Eventually General College was dissolved into a department of the now-called College of Human Development.
I dropped out of the University again, and soon became divorced from the mother of my child.
Though the University area still seemed to be the safest place for me in the city, as brown males aren't taken to be entirely out-of-place there.
And eventually I stepped into a restaurant I'd once frequented years before, asking if they needed any help.
A burly man with a beer at the counter asked if I knew how to run a sound-board, to which I replied that I did not.
He then asked if I wanted to learn, to which I replied yes I did.
I was also tasked with finding bands to play at the venue, and promoting their shows; both of which I sucked at ...
Though I did have a few connections, remember that high school band that was a few years younger than us?
They bought a modicum of success, and their lead singer was also attending the U of M at this time; coincidentally enough, he also had some activist friends who wanted to do something different.
I was introduced to them.
They were three white males, who had had some scholastic success and were leaders of a few "progressive" student groups at the time; but they wanted to make their own thing ...
I met with them once per week, when I was able to rouse myself from my anxiety ridden slumbers, and I provided them the idea of throwing shows every other week at the venue which I worked.
Musicians + non-profits ... it was a win-win-win for me, as it was one less show I'd have to try and book.
May it be noted that as a brown person who always presented as indigenous, being political was never a choice for me; my identity was always politicized for me, my choice has always been how to respond.
# Substance Abuse
Around this time I was also afforded the ability to purchase a video camera.
Substance soon moved on to throwing block parties, and I recorded promo videos for them pro bono ... because I was perceived as a brown pot-head, no one pays those until ...
Well, anywho ...
The venue with which I was working, eventually, got shut-down, as we were operating without an event license; and Substance eventually got to throw a really big show during the Republican National Convention protests in 2008.
Remember that same high school band with the lead singer ..?
One of their guitarists eventually got into sound engineering and stage management; the company he worked for was providing all of the venue equipment for Substance's block parties, and would provide equipment and personnel for the RNC show as well.
I thought, hey, I'd done some work with them as a sound engineer (professionals even said I was pretty good) ... maybe I could help out ...
The three white men of Substance didn't allow me to participate unless I raised $5,000 for them.
At which point I determined them to be obligatory bigots, and arguably ladder-climbing white supremacists.
Though they were having their own problems internally; sketchy shit with booking shows and money ... and so we continue with our story.
# Broken Lies Media
Before Substance broke up they helped to throw an event for students and families over North, and I was formally contracted to video record the event.
I got the event recorded, edited the video and it is still available on YouTube.
Though a light-bulb must have gone off in their heads, as shortly afterwards two of the three members decided to make their own video production company.
And of course, with their whiteness and connections, getting funding was easy for them.
I attempted to meet with them, thinkin I still had value to offer in this endeavor, perhaps moreso than ever.
As in all of their videos they were never asking necessary questions ... a life of whiteness does not allow one the insight necessary to do so.
Regardless, they found token non-white or white-passing people to appease their sensibilities and I became an even more staunch critic of their progressive belligerence.
# Lost, Angry and Ambitious
My estrangement from my child is another story, though concurrent to all that was happening.
While, when the venue I'd been working at stopped doing music, our focus transferred over to another venue the same family owned a few blocks away.
Here I was tasked with hosting a series of Sunday shows, again the videos of which can still be seen on YouTube.
Anywho, lots of bullshit continued to go down around this time --- I offered to book a show for an out-of-town white poet who was friends with P.O.S, and also friend with our Substance shitheads.
I booked an AMAZING show at Hell's Kitchen, but the white boys wanted to play at the famed 7th St Entry last minute -- which fucked me over, and made me look incompetant. The show was complete shit; and I was the one supposedly responsible.
Moving on, I learned how to code around this time ...
I had had an idea years ago, ScreamFreely ... and I still wanted to build it.
I believed the idea had utility and could serve the community.
# The Seed Is Planted
Through all of the usual avenues (relentlessly attending meet-ups & networking), I eventually got a job in tech, and found my way back to the University of Minnesota!
Somewhere in between OccupyMN occurred, and a famed white Latino predator-activist bedazzled everyone with his whiteness.
I tried to talk to him one night, about how we were both Latinos and could help each other to help our community; we were drunk and the next day he continued his ego-tripping.
For myself, I continued meeting with law enforcement to assure the viability of our occupation, and also pulled together a concert one evening --- got the permit pulled after-hours even!
Our predator-activist continued to Columbus OccupyMN, and I made him cry by calling him white one-morning; soon after I thought to invite him to a boxing match, albeit a planned match, so that the police would be unable to interfere.
My suggestion was met with an email sent to his entire contact list at the time, saying that I was "mentally and emotionally unstable."
Anywho, I had to drop out of the University again because I had no external support outside of my own will to survive. After getting a job, I aimed to regain connection with my child, but the people who originally bought me, stabbed me in the back through a lawyer.
They signed a piece of paper allowing them to see my child so long as they told my child nothing about me, and told me nothing about my child.
Nonetheless, I continued working for white people, for as long as I could stand them --- I quit the first tech job I got --- because whiteness is toxic and I had enough toxicity in my life.
And I went back to working in restaurants; though was always tangential to activism in the city.
I spoke at Mpls City Hall while they were passing the Loitering Ordinance, and dropped on by whenever I had time to listen, or speak, as was reasonable.
I watched as other folks rose to power in their cliques, and remained critical of those I saw as threats to sustainable efforts.
# NOC Gets Knocked Down
After Trayvon Martin was murdered, a rally was held on Northrup Mall, which I attended; and afterwards I asked the Executive Director of a then-prominent non-profit, what their working relationship was with the aforementioned white predator.
They denied having any working relationship with him; and in the coming weeks that would prove to be unequivocally false.
There remained issues with this non-profit throughout the years, and when Jamar Clark was murdered by the police, I attempted to interact with this non-profit again.
Though this time I came armed with all of the names, badge numbers, and assignments of Minneapolis Police Officers. I was personally interested in the information, and thought it reasonable for others to have access to it as well.
It was a peace offering, to be like, "Hey, I can do things of value; not just be critical of your behavior. I want to help!"
One woman, who had not-yet been told about me, agreed to meet with me; and when I showed her what I had built, she jumped up from her desk to give me a hug!
This was the first time I'd ever met this person.
Though I never received a call back from any of them, and when next I attempted to attend a community meeting, I was told at the door, that they didn't want me there.
A few months later the non-profit was shuttered under allegations of abuse and community harassment.
# Storification of Predation
At some point around this time, a young woman was directed to me. She sought help in dealing with one of the predators at the center of the aforementioned non-profit's dissolution -- our white Latino from OccupyMN.
I was asked to compile the posts and pictures of others who had interacted with this venomous bigot for a larger post on a platform called Storify.
The post received over 10,000 views within days of publication and compelled another white Latino to enter the fray ...
This second white Latino was compelled to convene a healing circle for our young lost white predator; and eventually an apology tour was organized.
I was one for whom an apology was owed -- and while we lamented that the insular nature of the Minneapolis activism community had compounded his words into irreparable damage - all he had to offer were words of apology.
When I asked him to make a public statement apologizing, he declined, saying it wouldn't do any good.
When I asked him to work with me on what I was working on ... he said it might make us both look worse.
And so his name remains on my shitlist.
# A Spidering Web
His allegations, his racialization of savagery, continue to haunt me.
Earlier when trying to build bridges within the community I was told, "I've heard of you."
One supposed elder in the Black community even tried to call me "crazy" as a compliment; expressing that one day they hoped to sit across a board room table from me.
This person also told me that "Everything historical is hysterical", when I tried to make amends for my own words of frustration aimed at them for their belligerence.
Another name for the shitlist; as for quite some time, they had also provided cover for our white Latino predator.
Eventually, I got another job in tech, and this position brought me into greater contact with the MetroIBA.
I started attending their meetings, attempting to involve myself, as they are a network of more community-centric business owners than any chamber of commerce could ever be.
As their meetings were occasionally held in the offices of member organization Jewish Community Action, after one meeting I decided to knock on JCA's doors and introduce my self to their Executive Director.
Afforded the ability to purchase business cards, I handed them one -- as I was proud of what I'd finally created at MnActivist.Org; and again thought, with support, it could be of service to their community.
It was Jewish Children & Family Services that had negotiated my purchase and my transfer from my homeland to Minnesota. And it was the Old Testement that had provided so much intrigue and education throughout my youth, when the Bible was my sole source for entertainment as a youth.
To me there was/is a poetry in being able to be of service to them; or at least the aspiration thereof.
JCA always seems to be at the forefront of doing good.
Their Executive Director had been following me for a few years on Twitter by this time, though never interacted with me ... nonetheless, I thought I had a chance to build a relationship.
Now they have me blocked 😕
And their little clique continues to spread which ever lies they can hold on to, as necessary.
# Good Riddance
An evening before I was to get on a plane to return to my homeland I stopped by a community meeting in Uptown.
One of the attendees was a local white-passing notable, who had also done considerable work with our former Substance boys.
I wanted to make what amends I could before leaving, and so I vocally apologized to them for my negative words regarding their friends, though expressed my respect for their work.
A few weeks later, they hate-friended me on Facebook in order to search my feed for a post they found disparaging, to call me names ... and say that they never wanted me in their community again.
I had made a post lamenting how it seemed that every activist was crying mental health issues ... while these same people had sidelined me for suffering from these same issues --- and I found it disgusting, stupid and hypocritical, to say the least.
At that time, my Facebook profile was private and consisted of less than 100 people ... and I was 3000 miles away from their community, geographically speaking.
So it's not like I was broadcasting my frustrations to the world -- just a very near circle of friends, few of whom were even in the activist scene, as I had long been expelled by this point in time.
Anywho, my child still resides in the state, while the State and the Union continue to have considerable impact on the rest of the world.
And perhaps this is another reason the celebrity activists on the ground resent me ... I refuse to lose hope of building a safe space to reunite with my child; and a better future for us all.
We are now at a turning point in the USA's, and world's, story.
How we move forward will decide the course our evolution takes. And I continue to be so bold as to think that my work is a positive effort towards a more communicative and united future.
And so, I persist ...
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