Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Lots Happening On The Lisa For Maine Campaign! #BlackLivesMatter

Dear Friends,
This week has been a busy one as our campaign continues to use social distancing in creative ways to get the word out. Dud Hendrick, Meredith Bruskin and Bruce Gagnon are seen here bannering in Belfast yesterday where they were also interviewed by a reporter for the local paper, Village Soup. It was the 3rd day in a row bannering as a group that also included Rob Shetterly, Starr Gilmartin, Connie Jenkins, Frank Donnelly, and Russell Wray at various times in Ellsworth and Bangor. Big thanks to all these dedicated volunteers!

Meanwhile, I went down to Bath Iron Works early on Monday and Tuesday morning to support the strike called by 87% of members in Machinists S6, the biggest union at BIW. Mark and I hung a large banner on the side of our van and did drive by support of picket lines at both the north and south gates. I livestreamed on Facebook as Mark slowly drove and workers responded with enthusiasm to support expressed from all over the country in the comments on the livestream (now saved as recorded videos here and here).

To undermine the union, BIW has been bringing in non-union laborers as contractors to avoid paying its Maine workers fairly. BIW kept $45 million in state taxes deducted from workers' paychecks under a law we lobbied against in the Maine legislature. Owner General Dynamics can well afford to give the skilled and trained workers at BIW fair compensation, and we continue to call for conversion to a demilitarized Green New Deal building things we need far more than war ships and that economists say would create thousands of additional jobs (see my op-ed in the Bangor Daily News about that here).

Also, please enjoy our new campaign song "Lisa for Mainers" composed by endorser Tom Neilson and performed by Tom and Lynn Waldron in this video on the LfM YouTube channel. 

Our wonderful endorsers are urging support for our campaign within their own networks, including Kathy Kelly at Voices for Creative Nonviolence plus Margaret Flowers, MD who has offered to do a health care educational event with us! I am so grateful for everyone's support. If you haven't signed on as an endorser or asked your networks to consider doing so, you can find the tools to do that here on our website.

Stay tuned for our statement today on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act before the House of Representatives, which is a good start but does not go nearly far enough. Defunding police to allocate resources known to reduce crime in our communities is a must, as is addressing the need for reparations to the descendants of enslaved Africans. Supporting the demand of Black Lives Matter to dismantle systems of oppression will be a major focus this summer as young people especially have vowed to not give up until their demands are met!

Big props to LfM Volunteer Coordinator Kelly Merrill, also a photojournalist par excellence, who has been covering BLM actions around the state during June.

Be well out there!

YouTube: Lisa for Maine
Instagram: @lisaformaine
Twitter: @LisaforMaine
Facebook: LisaforMaine
reddit: u/LisaforMaine

Saturday, June 20, 2020

My Response To Leah Baldacci

The Maine Bar Association inexplicably entertained a racist diatribe from attorney Leah Baldacci of Lipman & Katz this week. You can hear the recording of their meeting here on YouTube, and Ms. Baldacci's remarks begin around the 23:00 mark.

I used her firm's contact form to send her the following feedback just now, in the spirit of the message I hear often from Black, Indigenous, and other people of color: 

Y'all white people need to get your girl i.e. talk to other white people and challenge their racist statements and/or behavior.

June 20, 2020

Dear Ms. Leah Baldacci,

I would like to explain white privilege to you, and why it is neither an accusation nor biased to observe that white women like me and you have it. My dad explained it to me when I was about 6 or 7 years old by saying, You are white and that makes you lucky. It does not make you better than people of other races, but it does mean that many doors will be open to you that wouldn't be if you were not white.

Throughout my years in central Maine I've heard a lot of pushback on the notion of white privilege. This is usually from low-income white people who say some version of, I may have grown up white but I certainly didn't grow up privileged, thus confusing class privilege with white privilege. 

There is also quite a history of white, privileged women making remarks such as you did recently to the Maine Bar Association. Sufragettes we were taught to revere as champions of women deliberately excluded Black women from their movement, or literally relegated them to the back of the parade. Not a good look.

Here's how I've successfully explained white privilege in the 21st century to those open to considering the notion: 

Did your teenager ever do dumb stuff that brought him or her to the attention of police? Most people in Maine will answer in the affirmative. My second question is: Were you afraid they would die as a result? Most will answer no. And that, in a nutshell, is white privilege.

You may want to do some more reading on the subject of intersectionality (how various systems of oppression such as sexism and racism intersect and amplify each other). Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw developed the theory of intersectionality. She's a professor at the UCLA School of Law and Columbia Law School, specializing in race and gender issues, and worth a read.

Finally, I will pass along what Black, Indigenous and other people of color tell white people who have made blunders in speaking about race in public: impact counts more than intention. And also: white people, you need to do the work with other white people around their racism.

Respectfully submitted,
Lisa Savage