A Reading List on Race

Black Lives Matter.

The tragic death of George Floyd is another name in a long list of BIPOC individuals who have been killed for existing. Racism is rampant in the United States, in every social institution imaginable, and the institution of the police is no different. Hell, the police was originally created to catch runaway slaves. If that doesn’t tell you how deeply racism is embedded in our country, here is a list of books that will give you a clearer picture.

All of the following books are ones that I have read, and I guarantee that they  will help you understand more about race and racism within the U.S.This list in particular is directed at other white individuals, as we (white people) have a hard time talking about race. Let’s change that, so we can change the system and create one where color is visible, diversity is celebrated, and life is affirmed. Notes follow each title so you can determine if it is something you can read with a reading level and a difficulty rating between 1 and 5 with 1 at easy and 5 at extremely difficult. Please feel free to share this list.

“So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
-Reading Level: General
-Difficulty Rating: 1

“Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” by Ibram X. Kendi
-Reading Level: Written for a general audience but thoroughly researched and credible academic source
-Difficulty Rating: 2 just b/c of length

“The Racial Contract” by Charles Mills
-Reading Level: Academic – graduate students and upper-level undergrads (philosophy majors); it is a philosophy text
-Difficulty Rating: 5

“Shades of Freedom: Racial Politics and Presumptions of the American Legal Process” by A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr.
-Reading Level: Academic – grad and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 4
-Kind of dry but absolutely essential for understanding how the law disenfranchises BIPOC

“Racism without Racists: Colorblind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America” by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (and everything else he has written)
-Reading Level: Academic but approachable for upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 3

“Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity” by Tim Wise
-Reading Level: Written for academics but is suitable for undergraduates at all levels and general audience
-Difficulty Rating: 2

“Racial Formation in the United States” by Michael Omi
-Reading Level: Academic but approachable for upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 3

“Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal” by Andrew Hacker
-Reading Level: Academic – graduate and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 4

“American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Working Class” by Douglas S. Massey & Nancy A. Denton
-Reading Level: Academic – graduate and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 4

“The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial Framing and Counter-Framing” by Joe R. Feagin
-Reading Level: Academic – graduate and upper-level undergrads (especially sociology; it is a sociology text)
-Difficulty Rating: 3.5

“The Invention of the White Race” by Theodore W. Allen
-Reading Level: Academic – all levels
-Difficulty Rating: 3

“The History of White People” by Nell Painter
-Reading Level: Academic – graduate and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 4.5

“The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class” by David Roediger
-Reading Level: Academic – all levels and also suitable for a general audience
-Difficulty Rating: 1

“The Possessive Investment in Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics” by George Lipsitz
-Reading Level: Academic – grads and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 3

“The Constraint of Race: Legacies of White Skin Privilege in America” by Linda Faye Williams
-Reading Level: Academic – grads and upper-level undergrads
-Difficulty Rating: 3

“White: Essays on Race and Culture” by Richard Dyer
-Reading Level: Academic – grads and upper-level undergrads (esp. communications majors).
-Difficulty Rating: 4.5

Ramifications of the El Paso Shooting

When I first saw the story pop up in my news feed on August 3rd, I was horrified. I stay perpetually horrified by the news these days, as it is packed full of terrible inhumanities. Immigrants are held in concentration camps on our borders, American citizens with paperwork are being deported because officials refuse to believe in the validity of their identification, the constant assault on indigenous sovereignty. There’s only so much of the news I can read before I hit a stage of apathetic numbness because emotional shock is the only way I can handle the reality that I live in a world so filled with cruelty.

I don’t discuss this much because it’s not something I often feel like sharing with people; generally, I don’t want to deal with the level of misunderstanding that occurs when I tell people that I have Complex PTSD (C-PTSD). I developed it as a result of ongoing childhood trauma caused by an alcoholic mother who abused me in nearly every way imaginable. But because my trauma wasn’t induced by sexual violence, people often don’t believe me when I tell them I have C-PTSD.

My friends are highly aware of it, though. They are aware that every time we go out to eat, I have to sit at the outer edge of a booth – I cannot handle being hemmed in. I have to be facing an exit. I cannot handle being in a situation where I might be trapped – at movies or at theaters, I have to sit at the end of an aisle. I have to walk beside someone or behind them – it is hard for me to deal with people walking behind me. This is a normal, everyday level of fear for me.

Still, I go to shows, I go to classes, I hang out with friends. I live my life, constantly aware of the fact that nothing and nowhere is ever safe. Part of that comes from the fact that, on top of dealing with an abusive mother, I also dealt with her death when I was still very young. When she died, my dad basically dipped out of my life, so I was alone. Constant, ongoing trauma – that’s what characterizes C-PTSD.

So, when I see news about a shooting like this, I am horrified but not surprised. I grew up in a world where I expected the people around me to be cruel. I understand cruelty at a level many others never will, and I am beyond grateful that so many people will never have to face a world like that.

But for the survivors of shootings like the one that happened in El Paso, a massacre of 22 people that took under a minute – they will never be the same again. They will forever be haunted by the memory of the event. Those who survived, some of them will develop survivors guilt and run the memory of the massacre through their heads, over and over again, looking for ways they could have done something differently, ways they could have saved someone and sacrificed themselves instead. Others will be grateful that they are alive and then they will be ashamed of themselves because they are grateful for life while other people are dead, while other people’s families are grieving loss while their family is celebrating their survival.

Those who lost family members will never understand the kind of hatred that can motivate an individual to massacre people for the differential in skin color. It will never make sense, and yet they will have to try and reconcile the horrors of it as they go on in life. Or get trapped – they may get trapped in their grief, forever stuck reliving the trauma that the shooter inflicted on them through his actions. These are the things that people whose lives were directly impacted by the shooter will have to face, in the days to come.

I understand the depths of these horrors because they are the beginning stages of PTSD. I can imagine what they are facing because I grew up in a war zone. Not a literal one but it was close enough to one that a Marine I confided in told me that it reminded him of his tours in Iraq. That’s the kind of stress my home life induced in me – it’s also the reason I largely try to avoid the news and yet, at the same time, try to do everything I can to help when I hear of injustices committed against people who are simply trying to live their lives.

In El Paso, the people killed by the shooter were just trying to go to Walmart. They were running ordinary errands of everyday life. None of them expected to face an active shooter while they were trying to buy groceries, clothes, or other life necessities. As soon as that man opened fire, all of them were exposed to one of the most traumatic things a person can experience – the true frailty of human lives. 22 people, one a 4-month old child, gone in 60 seconds.

And for what? Well, if you read too much of the news, you see all sorts of crazy explanations. One of the headlines I saw stated that Trump blamed immigrants for the shooter’s actions. Out of all of them, I think that was the most horrifying. Most of the headlines agreed though – the shooter acted out of his rage against immigrants and people of color. He wrote an online manifesto that expressed his white supremacist viewpoints, and then he went to Walmart and killed 22 people.

No matter what your politics are, left-wing or right-wing, I should be able to state with confidence that we all agree that people have the right to go about their daily lives without being shot at Walmart. People have the right to their lives – in fact, the Constitution guarantees that – “The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is a key phrase. Tell me, then, how happy are the people of the United States when they cannot walk into a store without the fear of a mass shooting?

I live my life terrified of walking into an unknown situation or place, but that fear comes from living a life filled with traumatic personal events. How long are we going to deny that white supremacy is an issue and that civilians don’t need access to assault rifles? Are we going to put dealing with those issues off so long that we end up facing a genocide of immigrants and people of color? Are we going to wait until we have traumatized the entire nation?

Because that’s where we’re heading, and, if you’re not terrified, you’re really not paying attention.

My First Work as Publisher Now Available

I have officially crossed over into the realm of publisher. This is the first work I have produced alongside a handful of other amazing individuals.

Loki's Torch, Vol. 1, 2019

By Ky Greene

102 pages, published 7/31/2019

Loki’s Torch is the first annual edition of a collection of Lokean works that includes poetry, artwork, scholastic essays, rituals, and more.

Digital Cost: $7.10
Hardcopy Cost: $26.40 (includes a free copy of the digital version)

This collection features multiple full-color spreads and a wide variety of devotional work. It is the first in a new annual Loki-devotional series.

Forced to Choose Which Injustice to Fight

The harsh reality of living in the United States is that you cannot escape the fact that the government chooses to do terrible, horrendous things to people for reasons they think are justifiable but are really just ill-disguised bigotry and an age-old imperial mindset that has embedded itself into the minds of all but the most socially conscious citizens of this nation. 

We have a moral obligation, when we see someone being harmed, to stand up and do something about it. But it isn’t a moral obligation many people will ever actually indulge, as we live in a world that has put self-safety over the potential violence we will face if we dare to stand up for someone else. 

That said, there are those who do stand up for others. Who do risk violence to themselves in order to fight for a world that treats everyone as human beings. Take the crisis on our borders with immigrants – who are seeking asylum and refuge – who are being held in detention centers that are thinly veiled concentration camps. They are forced to endure debilitating environmental conditions due to bureaucratic nonsense and a heavy politically-induced xenophobia driven by the current administration. Still, there are those who stand up and protest, despite the potential harm it can cause them. Just a few days ago, a group of Catholics made it their moral obligation to protest the inhumanity of the camps. 

But the camps, despite their inhumanity, are not the only atrocity facing the United States right now. There is also the drive to build the TMT, a heavy-duty telescope, on the summit of Mauna Kea, a sacred site for indigenous Hawaiians. For them, the mountain’s summit serves as the home of the gods, and it is the highest mountain on earth from its undersea base to its summit. The government has heavily interfered, doing its best to force the construction of TMT to go ahead as planned, even though hundreds of astronomers have denounced the military and police intervention. Many, many scientists do not want to force the construction of TMT on Mauna Kea when it puts indigenous people in harm’s way. 

While Mauna Kea is the preferred site for scientific research, there *is* a backup site in the Canary Islands. There is no reason to continuously try to force the TMT on the Haiwaain people – no reason outside of that imperialistic mindset that has been, unfortunately, carved into the mindset of many United States citizens. 

There are thousands of other injustices being committed against everyday people every day, as the government does its best to take more and more of our freedom. Over the last several decades, protests have been harder and harder to launch, as more and more local governments issue restrictions against large gatherings – such as requiring protesters to acquire a parade permit. The United States constitution has largely been left on the wayside, and the right to assembly without being subject to violence neatly shredded by the consistent use of police and military force. 

One of the bloggers I follow wrote this post, Indifference of Convenience, calling out Pagan community members for keeping silent about the horrors happening at Mauna Kea. While there are some truth in his words, there is also the fact that many people – myself included – did not become aware of this issue until a few days ago. On my part, it’s because I do the best I can to avoid watching the news. It makes me so upset and angry when I do watch the news that it becomes close to impossible to get through the day. 

There’s also a reason I’m posting this here, on my writing blog, rather than my Pagan blogs – I keep my religion and my politics separate. Other people combine theirs, and that’s fine. That’s just not how I view the world. I don’t speak out against the injustice I see in the world because I feel the gods expect it of me – I speak out against the injustice I see in the world because I expect it of myself.

There are people who are speaking out against what is happening at Mauna Kea, who are firmly in support of the protesters there. I commend them, and I offer them the support I am able. No one should have to fear their sacred sites being desecrated, and I hope they win the fight to halt the construction of the TMT on their sacred mountain. 

Because there are so many injustices in this world, in this country, right now, we all have to choose the fights that matter most to us and speak out against them, protest them in person if we are able, and donate to the activists who can be there in our stead when we do not have the option to be physically present. I wish that the world wasn’t so messed up that we had to so carefully choose the battles that we fight, but the truth is that we do live in a world messed up enough to force us to choose our battles with care. 

For me, that battle is against the families and children being forced into concentration camps when they have done nothing wrong. It is against those who cannot even be bothered to offer a shred of human decency to people who are already scared for their lives. Instead of offering those scared people hope, our government is offering them cruelty the likes of which hasn’t been seen since WWII. 

The government recently decided to open Fort Sill, which served as a Japanese Internment Camp during the second World War, as a detention center for immigrants. Many people protested the opening of the camp, including Japanese Americans and First Nations people who do not want to see any more camps opened. 

This is the battle I have chosen, as it is the one that is closest to being a genocidal campaign in our nation. The increase of ICE raids to deport immigrants (not all of whom are illegal) as well as the increased level of discrimination against non-white children in public and private schools and workplaces works with the concentration camps (let’s call them what they are) to create an environment in our nation that is a hairs-breadth away from another genocidal campaign driven by the U.S. government. 

People deserve to live without fear, no matter what they look like or what their country of origin happens to be. I have the resolve to hold firm against the insanity that has gripped our nation, slowly dragging us toward the unwarranted cruelty of a genocidal campaign of those that happen to look and be different from the majority. Now the real question is, do you have that resolve? 

Spectrum on Sale for $1 and Other Updates

Spectrum, the bdsm homoerotica that I wrote a few years back, is currently part of Smashword’s summer promotion, and you can buy your own copy of it for $1. You can find it here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/282832

I’ve fallen kinda silent on this blog because I’ve been working hard on the previously announced Loki’s Torch collection. That will be released on August 1st, and I am moving from the realm of being a writer into the realm of being a writer/editor/publisher all at once. That’s both exciting and a bit overwhelming.

I’ve also been hard at work putting together the Divine Multiplicity multi-trad polytheist community and writing over there. A lot of my writing is religiously fueled these days, so most of my work can be found on Divine Multiplicity or A Polytheistic Life.

Outside of that, most of the writing I do is non-fiction work for my graduate classes. It has been a hot minute since I’ve written anything outside of those two categories (spiritual or non-fiction).

I am planning on compiling my poetry into a book that I will self-publish through MagCloud, since it’s a print-on-demand service that offers both pdf and hard copies. It’s the platform we’re using to publish Loki’s Torch, and I’m really excited about the release of that collection, which is set for August 1st.

For now, though, Spectrum is part of the Smashwords summer sale, and I’d love for more people to read and review it. I understand it’s not subject matter comfortable for everyone, but for those of you who are willing to delve into the bdsm homoerotica world, I really appreciate you taking the time to read my book.

Updates

I’ve added the work I’ve done over the last year to the non-fiction section of this site. Since I started graduate school last semester, most of my time has been dedicated to pursuing my Master’s degree.

My thesis is centered around the Flint Water Crisis and the systemic racism in the media coverage of the crisis. It seems that everything has kind of converged and led me to the realization that I am becoming a historian of race relations and racism, particularly within the United States.

When I first realized that, I was a little bit surprised. Now that I’ve had time to think about it, however, it makes a lot of sense. I have always pursued an understanding of why it is that people direct hatred towards those who are different from them.

Even my faith emerged out of a pursuit for that understanding. I became Pagan after learning enough about Jehovah’s Witnesses (after swearing off Protestantism) to learn that they hated Pagans. Then I researched Pagans and, well… I haven’t looked back since.

I originally thought that because my focus in undergrad was generally on conflict, particularly ethnic conflict, that my overall focus as a historian would become genocide and peace studies. I have learned, over the last year, however, that I was wrong about that.

Instead, my focus is on race relations and racism, especially the way that media has intertwined with those in the United States and exacerbated the issues of racism. It was never the path I expected to take through life, and it is not a typical one for a historian to walk.

While there are race historians, very few of them focus on the modern period rather than the Civil War or Reconstruction Eras. My focus is more on today’s world, the world since 9/11, which was the pivotal moment for me growing up that got me interested in researching difference and the way conflict evolves from that difference.

In any case, I do not update here as much as I’d like because I’m spending so much time on my studies. I hope you will take a few moments to peruse the nonfiction essays I’ve posted.

My First Paid Article is for a Pagan Title

My paid article for the Wild Hunt. This is my first official paid *article.* I love that it’s for a Pagan title.

You can find it here: https://wildhunt.org/2018/12/column-the-lokean-community-what-we-really-look-like.html

In it, I discuss what the Lokean community, of which I am part, actually looks like, as there is confusion amongst the larger Pagan world as to why individuals choose to work with a god like Loki.

Poem: Investments

Investments

I invest only in those

who invest nothing in me,

whose expectations sing like nothing

because they behold me to nothing,

and I am then free to be the me

I aspire to become, the best version

I can envision of the person I choose to be.

 

Those who invest in me

shackle me with the weight

of the chains they tie around my neck

with the expectations that

sparkle like a false promise

that, somehow, if I become

the image they paint of me that

I, too, will, somehow,

shine like diamonds

 

But diamonds are fragile and

shatter under pressure, and

as I pursue the image of who

they paint me into being,

I start to shatter like the diamonds

because the pressure to be perfect,

flawless in their eyes, builds inside

of me until I snap and break and prove,

yet again, that I cannot achieve the

perfection they paint me in.

 

I invest in those who

invest nothing in me and

who leave me free to mold

my own desires and expectations

without directing my design,

and I invest in their freedom

from my interference in

their design of them, so that,

by the end of it, we are none of us

investing anything in anyone

but ourselves, and we are learning

to live in a world where everyone

 

chases their own self to become

without chasing after false expectations

and promised dreams that come to nothing

because those nothing expectations

aren’t the ones we hold inside

ourselves, and we find, instead,

the courage to chase after

our own individual expression

of who we were always meant to be.

Our selves. Unchained.

Written 7/25/2018