Hyping social justice in Black Rock City

Each August, tens of thousands of freakniks congregate in the Black Rock Desert about 3 hours northeast of Reno, NV for something resembling an annual pilgrimmage. Burning Man is a phenomenal experience, and I was proud to promote social justice through several projects this year. My musical performances raised various political themes (especially my Saturday afternoon set at TransFOAMation, where I spit a new rhyme amidst others addressing issues from police violence to climate change and intersectional solidarity), and I was thrilled for the chance to publish a blog post about a week before the convergence to explain and promote the otherwise disparate actvities of several camps dedicated to racial, immigrant, climate, and gender justice.

Que Viva brought together activists in the movement for black lives, Red Lightning included indigenous elders and activists from Standing Rock, and TransFOAMation (my camp) joined forces with Gender Blender to give thousands of burners an intro to gender expression and the history of trans resistance. In the few days since returning home, I've heard several former burners explain that they stepped away from burner communities because their hedonism seemed self-indulgent. To that, I would simply remind anyone that life in general, or any experience--including Burning Man--is entirely what you make it!

Agency (March and August, 2017)

(with Samantha Rebecca Cohen)

Are we all
Bugs
Trapped
In a urinal?

With wet wings
Frozen to ceramic
Our legs
Frantically

Joining a group of sheroes

I'm excited to announce that I've accepted an invitation to join the Board of Directors of the Center for Media Justice, a prolific organization based in Oakland, CA working to establish democratic media ownership, fundamental communication rights, universal media and technology access, and accurate representation in news and popular culture for everyone.

CMJ's work spans many of the issues on which I work at EFF, but brings to struggles for digital rights the voices of vulnerable communities and individuals impacted by government or corporate abuses. The Center works not only on challenging the mass surveillance paradigm that has largely defined my career, but also on principles such as net neutrality and media representations of communities of color.

West Coast jurisdictions advance community oversight of police surveillance

My latest writing for EFF examines a series of campaigns up and down the west coast challenging secret, unaccountable mass surveillance by local police. From Seattle to Los Angeles, cities are taking action to impose public control on the acquisition of police surveillance tech, and the entire state of California is in play.

These measures not only shift the law governing the millions of people living in those jurisdictions, but also represent crucial oversight principles strikingly absent at the federal level. With Congress forced to consider NSA mass surveillance this year by the scheduled expiration of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, these campaigns (alongside others in cities across the country) could not come at a better time.

Darkness Rising (August 2017)

I see darkness rising
up close and in slow motion
horrors happening every hour
life flattened by profit
one family evicted
one species erased
neither even warrants a headline
We move chairs in elaborate
patterns as our ship both sinks 
and collapses around us on
all sides growing corporate
corn waiting for the pathogen to
strike earthquakes in the last
lands stolen from natives
where having long ago killed
all the buffalo now we
hollow out the ground
and squeeze the Earth dry
while hurling our trash
en masse
into the One Water
We drink our own piss
not because we're dehydated
wandering in the desert
but because we're so stupid
we'll follow any advertisement like
the gospel bio-tech crosses
between sheep and lemmings
attaining self-realization in
the air mere moments before

My first time playing live electronica

I had a chance last month to participate for the first time in a regional Burning Man event in the northeast, Firefly. In between a few DJ sets on Thursday and one on Saturday night / early Sunday morning, I had a chance to embrace a new musical experience that remains among my most memorable highlights from the event.

Disappointment...or the Birth of Flight (July 2017)

Dreams are visions
they take effort to chase
gray hair and sweat
furrowed brows and
sore limbs
inspiration and effort
to first bring
to mind
and more to then
bring to fruition

Dreams are targets
for passion objects
of longing prompting
extension of
self across 
space and (as one
might hope in any
moment for) also
maybe time

Dreams are like
hanging
in the
air
before
one's foot 
finds Earth
that sometimes
just
is 
not
there.

 

Expansive protections against police abuses win approval in Providence, RI

My latest writing for EFF addresses the nation's most visionary local civil rights & civil liberties policy, adopted by the Providence (RI) City Countil to impose several sets of limitations on the Providence Police Department. The passage of this measure feels like a tremendous vindication, as it eclipses less visionary alternatives and reflects both the intersectional vision (and even some of the text) from the Local Civil Rights Restoration Act that I compiled at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee back in 2009.

Cell phone spying takes a turn for the worse

On May 18, the Detroit News published a story documenting the first known example of a cell-site simulator (a military-grade surveillance tool used widely by state & local police across the U.S.) to track down someone suspected not of a national security threat or violent felony, but rather an immigration offense. The story includes a clever infographic explaining the technology, and quotes me at some length explaining that:

“Once you start giving agencies fancy toys, and somebody is making money off of it, they are going to use them for more things, and ultimately oppress your rights....Whether Trump was in office or someone else....”

Bringing the Movement to the dance floor

On Sunday, April 9, a gaggle of friends joined me to host Movement: a party to benefit immigrant rights at Public Works in San Francisco's Mission district. We brought together folks from acros the bay area, had the dance floor jumping under a sun-lit disco ball, and raised over $1,000 for Causa Justa / Just Cause.

My mix from the afternoon spans hip hop, jazzy, tribal, and funky house, and also features my live vocals, including a lyrical shout out to the resistance by water protectors at Standing Rock at 45:15.

The event is a recurring gathering dedicated to inclusion, connection, activation, and transformation by bringing together diverse local artists, people who like to dance and express, and nonprofits that work every day to defend the rights of marginalized communities. 

We'll be hosting the next event in the Movement series sometime this summer. To hear details once they're announced, drop me a line!

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