supersonic debbie

supersonic debbie

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Response to Cindi Moar Alvitre Speaks Tradition: “Moving Beyond the Silenced Knowings”

A Response to Cindi Moar Alvitre Speaks Tradition: “Moving Beyond the Silenced Knowings” Lecture on March 20th at Scripps College. Part of the Humanities Institute Lecture Series, “Continuing Invasion. Resistance, Resilience, and Re-Invention Among North American Indigenous Peoples.”

Cindi Moar Alvitre is a UCLA PhD Candidate in the Department of World Arts and Cultures

Do you ever wonder on whose land your house was originally built? Or where did the Native Americans go that used to live in the space you now call your apartment, more broadly your neighborhood and city? Last Tuesday, at a lecture by the Tongva native Cindi Moar Alvitre, I found out the answers to these curious questions. My studio was built on land that used to belong to the Tongva. The Tongva populated the lands of what are the contemporary Los Angeles and Orange Counties, and the four Southern Channel Islands, including Catalina Island. “My” home is a site of “silence knowings.” My vacation to the gorgeous Catalina Island is another site of “silenced knowings.” Alvitre spoke about silence knowings as the harboring of “historical unresolved grief” that may be both conscious and unconscious to the inhabitants which enter these haunted spaces. 

As I live my life disconnected from the history of the physical place that I live in, I seem to grow a greater awareness of the silence knowings manifesting themselves as subconscious discomfort or anxiety. Cindi Moar Alvitre’s lecture allowed me to become conscious of the need to heal, to return home to my studio and resolve to speak about the silence knowings within these walls and through this blog.

Women have been applying traditional healing methods to historical trauma for centuries. Alvitre tells us “Part of healing is giving” and I want to help others know about the Tongva and their concept of silenced knowings so they too can begin to heal the historical trauma present in their homes/lives. Thank you Cindi Moar Alvitre for giving me the tools to understand how to heal. Three things that silenced knowings teach us to do: 1. Recognition 2. Respect 3. Responsibility. I interpret recognition as naming the historical trauma, respect as honoring the memory of the lost peoples, and responsibility as educating others about that historical trauma.

Catalina Island 2/20/2012

The Tongva were removed from Catalina Island from 1816 to 1820. The Tongva left their spirit’s essence in Catalina Island and it can still be felt there today. They were brought to present day Olivera Street (Los Angeles) to take refuge in the Yang’na Village, where natives were allowed to live a traditional lifestyle. In the 1860’s the village of Yang’na was burned down and the natives moved to what was called “Calle de los Negros.” Their descendants lived alongside and sometimes mixed with African-Americans, Chinese and Mexican peoples populating this so-called “Street of the Blacks,” named because of the extreme poverty of the inhabitants that lived there, they were usually Black people. This history is incomplete, but the function of speaking/educating others about it is a healing practice. I do not know when the Tongva were removed from the land that I now live on; more research is necessary. In the meantime, calling out the words “silenced knowings” at least puts my uneasiness to sleep. I have a name by which to describe the occult experience of living in a place where historical trauma continues to linger. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Why RAC? Why NOW?

RAC stands for “Revolutionary Autonomous Communities.” Why this name? Extreme urban poverty calls for radical action. The day to day struggle to survive is an act of revolution, for the poor and working class people. RAC is mostly people of color. RAC says we have a responsibility for all people in our society; the homeless, the formerly incarcerated, migrants, single women of color with children, the LGBTQ community, the sick, the elderly. People are starving in the streets of Westlake, Los Angeles, approximately seven to twenty minutes away from the Standard, the Library Bar, and other elite establishments. As the wise Anarchist/Communist intellectual John A. Imani once said, “We don’t claim to have the exact formula for changing this ‘government,’ but what we are involved in is an experiment in how to become human....[RAC] is nothing more than an experiment in socialism.” We are to reinvent our humanity, not defend what labels the patriarchy and the imperialist U.S. regime uses to identify us. In the words of Franz Fanon, “For Ourselves and For Humanity, comrades, we must turn over a new leaf and try to set-afoot as a new man [and woman]” (Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth).
RAC distributes free, healthy food in recycled bags and boxes every Sunday on the west side of MacArthur park (Parkview/Alameda). The food includes mostly fresh vegtables, fruits, breads, and spices. RAC was born out of desperate necessity. Watch this documentary to see how RAC first began on November 13, 2007: “We Are Still Here. We Never Left.”  on The climate was hot in the inner city from police brutality, deportations, extreme urban poverty, gentrification, and lack of jobs, or welfare safety-nets for the vulnerable of society because of lack of taxes on the ultra-rich, the corporate take-over which increased privatized medical care, threatened to cut Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and so forth. 
The television, radio, and internet ads assume that the average consumer is brainwashed to the point of not knowing themselves. The masses are not stupid. The working class and poor people have many cultures, and  political agendas, but it is not studied in academia or understood by the mainstream media. An array of politicians and hedge fund bankers assume that the working class and the poor are ignorant at best; idiots at worst. We want to redistribute the wealth of society more equitably, but we can’t do it so easily (even though there are more of us than the top richest men) for the obvious reason that those who lack access to capital, have no power to change the system without revolution. RAC’s demands can be grouped into three categories; the social, the economic, the political. The truth is they know that we know we can take down their capitalist kleptocracy if we just organize, and they are scared we will. That’s why the puppet news stations like Fox News, CNN, and internet sites like yahoo etc. are funded by the billions of dollars to try and convince us that we are incapable of changing this form of government. See the RAC blog at We discuss topics that are relevant to our community in this forum on Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons, at the same location in Mac Arthur park. 
The elderly and the infirm are sleeping on the cold streets, without anybody to offer them a bed or a glass of water before perishing. Take a chance. You’re capable. Volunteer for RAC and/or get free veggies/fruits/snacks/bread/fresh spices. Also, please introduce yourself to the other women, men and children working towards a political revolution of the poor/working-class. Everyone is really nice. Don’t be shy. We have volunteers that speak Spanish only, Korean only and English only. 

RAC is protesting the establishment through mostly self-taught anarchist, communist, and/or socialist ways. We want to redistribute wealth more equitably amongst ourselves. How? If others have less than us, we give. If others ask for our help, we give what we can. We are different than Occupy LA because our goal is first to build a strong community as a revolutionary act, and second, to cut ties with the elite class through working to change the economic inequality. We labor for change, we invite you to join us. 
See you next Sunday,
The RAC-LA Family
?’s or Comments?-email: 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Poem: Heart in the Garbage

I Like Her Too Much. Even the AWKWARD moments are GOLDEN. I should have called it off sooner and gained some sleep. But she's a gentleman. And I'm wild. Now it's past. Roll over on the bed. I know you are unhappy too. I hurt to think I've hurt you. All is said and done. I hurt to think I've hurt you. I won't message you tomorrow. Or Sunday. The Venice streets will cure my blues. Asprin will cure this headache. Books can take away my boredom. I cannot stand this ache to forget your name. Why keep secret when you can tell someone? Something? Everyone? Everything? Maybe staying at home was a wretched idea. Dim the lights and break out the good cogniac. Play with the lighter. Drink black coffee in the morning; eat nothing. Listen to music that reminds me of her blessed way. Smoke. Die, whatever. It's totally lonely in this place. That's Why Poetry!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Women of Crossroads Tell Their Stories: Reflections on the Talk: “239 Years of Experience Behind Bars: Former Prisoners Tell a Story”

“Do you know what really happens to the lives we lock away?” A provocative flyer advertising the Balch Auditorium panel discussion from Crossroads residents, a half-way house for women recently released from prison, asks student-passerby’s hurridly walking through Seal Court.

At the talk, the small group of diverse women (young and older, white and black) seated at the well-lit stage, each took turns speaking on a particular topic in relation to their incarceration experiences and the injustices they have suffered at the hands of the U.S. criminal justice system. The place is filled almost completely with a sea of student faces. I had the pleasure of having known one of the women up on the stage intimately from my senior year of college. She had been gracious enough to share with me her words of wisdom for my senior thesis entitled “The Gulag Speaks Back: What Formerly Incarcerated African-American Women Can Teach Us About Living Between the Politics of the Corporate-Prison-Industrial Complex and The War On Drugs.” I was happy to see my old friend doing well, confident in her ability to raise awareness about issues important to her and many others. My connection to her, and another woman from Crossroads not on the panel but most certainly sitting in the front rows, have made me a better woman today. No kidding. I am sincerely grateful to both of these women and the four others that contributed so much to my life, through the undergraduate thesis interviewing process and beyond. They taught me about how to understand the cruelty of horrible violence and the great depths of unconditional love.

I am especially grateful in this space online to the women from the panel of the talk. In the lives of these self-empowered women, such as the women of Crossroads panelists, we can all learn about how in the lived reality of formerly incarcerated women, activism and Feminism are not independent practices of one another, as they shouldn’t be within academia. Far too long have the Feminists of the ivory tower excluded the voices of women of color, women formerly incarcerated, working class and poor. It is finally time that we, as academic Feminists, began to ask the marginalized Feminists how to proceed with a cohesive Feminist movement. Competancy is a non-issue.

I stood in awe of the panelists accomplishments despite all the terrible hardships in their lives. Here are some stats on the panelists of the talk:
*134 years of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous Attendance
*1 GED
*5 AA degrees
*1 Bachlor of Science Degree
*Substance Abuse Program-Peer Counselor
*Faith Based Program-2 Years
*Christian Twelve Step Facilitator
*Books on Tape for the Blind
*Carpenter, Electrician, Masonry…
*College Reading and Language Arts Tutor
*Computer Programming
*Graphic Arts Vocational Certificate
And Many, Many others…

These accomplishments say something about the women’s individual courage, and the strength of the Crossroads formula to help the recently released prisoners, especially “lifer’s” get back on their feet again. Although I am an aetheist and many of the women are Christian, this has never been a divisive issue that kept us from our discussions. Getting involved means listening, not just talking and acting. This is one lesson I learned from the current Crossroads program director.

Furthermore, the words of these women were bitter like acid when describing pregancy in prison, for example. The experience described of living the instant separation of mother from infant, not to mention, the shackling of the mother’s feet directly pre and post labor is heartbreaking. If you don’t know how to start practicing Feminism, I would like to encourage readers to start by listening to what women in prison/formerly released have to say.

I would like to conclude with a few outrageous statistics about women in prison:
*The number of owmen in prison has increased at nearly double the rate of men
since 1985: 404% vs. 209%.
*More than half of women incarcerated under state jurisdiction report that they had experienced either sexual or physical abuse before their admission to prison.
*Only 4 in 10 women are able to find employment in the regular labor market within one year of release.
*States are authorized to initiate termination of parental rights when a child has been living under foster care for 15 of the last 22 months.
*1 in 3 mothers has never spoken with her children by phone while incarcerated.