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Struggling with “Social-Ecological Systems” Part II

Yesterday I wrote a bit of a ranting critique of social-ecological systems (SES) theory. It was helpful, and since then I have clarified my thinking a little. In yesterday’s post I said:

It’s hard to articulate exactly what my problem with SES theory is, but I think it comes down to the framing of these “linkages” as “systems.” … Framing the bait worm industry as a “system” erases its heterogeneity, and the processes – intentional and unintentional – that produce it.

I’ve realized that this is not a new issue – it’s the old structure versus agency debate framed in new terms.* It is exactly the issue that theories of performativity – which I invoked in my post yesterday – were designed to address. With this in mind, I am convinced that I am at least on the right track.

The structure/agency debate has a long history in the social sciences. The question is, how do you reconcile larger patterns of activity with individual abilities to navigate and change the patterns through their actions? Ignoring the larger patterns leads to methodological individualism which manifests politically as Regan and Thatcher style “up by your bootstraps” policies. There is no need for social programs, or government intervention – these things can only get in the way of individuals’ abilities to choose what’s best for them and lift themselves out of poverty, oppression, etc. On the other hand, focusing too much on structure leads to a politics of impotence. The structure is set, and any attempt to change it is already anticipated by the structure, so there is no hope for creating a better structure. Few, if any, actually subscribe to the strong structuralist position – most take some kind of middle path where people have some capacity to change the structure or at least navigate within it. However, these middle grounds are often poorly theorized: what exactly is the structure? how is it composed? how is it maintained over time? how do individuals or collectives go about making changes to it?

I don’t want to get into answering these questions here, but it seems to me that this is the same issue underlying SES theory. If a set of relationships is characterized as an SES – whether resilient or not, well or poorly fuctioning – then what happens to the desires and intentions of the organisms – including the humans – who make up that system? Their intentions are essentially subverted to the functioning of the system as a whole. Now it’s tricky because SES theory has defined functioning of the system in a way that is politically acceptable in most ways. It promotes democratic decision-making, collaborative research, diversity, etc. But these political ideals are undermined (or overmined, perhaps) by the problematic position of the sciences in relation to the system.

Scientists – both natural and social – from an SES perspective are the ones who can grasp the system as a whole. As a result, they are not simply actors within the system with their own unique set of interests. Instead, they become the arbiters of whether or not the system is functioning and resilient (and since these concepts are poorly defined, there is a lot of leeway in terms of what a resilient and functioning system might look like). The authority of the sciences is, therefore, maintained, even if they engage in democratic and collaborative processes. These become merely perfunctory ways for scientists to “intervene” to “change behavior” and move the system in the direction that they want.

Before you complain that I am anti-science, let me explain. I am not against science – I think it plays an important, even essential, role in building a more just and sustainable world. My concern is that, in maintaining the authority of Science as an institution, we risk creating bad relationships between scientists and the public. The result will not be a more sustainable or resilient system, but a lot of backlash and controversy that perpetuates the problems and might eventually – in an extreme case – lead to either the dismantling of the sciences or a fascist approach to environmental management.

In place of authority, I want the sciences to have trust. I want to be able to interact with people and work with them – on a genuinely equal level – to figure out the best way to live sustainably. This means stepping back from ideologies that position ourselves as the ultimate arbiters of what’s best (e.g. resilience), and instead working on building relationships with and between others – human and non-human alike – so that we can all figure it out together.

It is for that reason that I want to propose an alternative to SES theory in, as I described it yesterday, the idea of performative ecology. I won’t go into all of the details about how the performative approach and SES theory differ, but the basic idea is that, in place of systems, there are only actors (of different scales) navigating and negotiating their relationships with one another. The practical result is that scientists are situated back within the ecologies they study, and their role is that described above – the composition of relationships with and between actors in the ecology. This will make for a better, more effective science, and – hopefully – a more just, sustainable, and, possibly, “resilient” world.

 

 

 

*This is what happens when social scientists borrow concepts from the natural sciences without an equivalent feedback of social theory – we end up recapitulating the same old debates in new terminology.

Struggling with “Social-Ecological Systems”

I recently began really digging into the literature on “social-ecological systems” (SES) theory because I have a real love/hate relationship with it and I want to figure out once-and-for-all what I can take from it and what I think is best left behind.

Here’s the general framework, as I understand it: SES theory is based in complexity and systems theories. It is an attempt to overcome nature/culture dualism by looking at the ways that social systems and ecological systems are “linked.” It is inter- and transdisciplinary in practice, and much of the prescriptive emphasis is on increasing “resilience” within social-ecological systems. This is done, generally, by taking a more ecosystems approach to management and through the creation of more democratic management institutions.

This all sounds good in the abstract, and, practically, I think most of the results are probably what I would advocate. But there’s something still that rubs me the wrong way about it, and I need to figure out if I’m just being overly critical or if there are legitimate concerns about this approach.

It’s hard to articulate exactly what my problem with SES theory is, but I think it comes down to the framing of these “linkages” as “systems.” Most of the “systems” SES folks are interested in do not function as systems in my opinion. They are certainly linked, but not in a way that produces the kinds of emergent properties that we typically associate with systems. For example, I’ve spent the last four years researching the bait worm industry in Maine and its role in transporting invasive species to the Mid-Atlantic. Is this a social-ecological system? I wouldn’t characterize it as such, but an SES theorist might simply because there are social processes and ecological processes that are influencing and affecting one another. I could be okay with that, but it ends up being more than just a definitional issue, I suspect.

Framing the bait worm industry as a “system” erases its heterogeneity, and the processes – intentional and unintentional – that produce it. Instead, the system is said to be fluctuating around certain points of equilibria – even when it is out of equilibrium, it would, ideally, be moving towards one of those various states. There is a kind of teleology to this even if there is not a single telos, and it washes away the desires and intentions of the beings who compose the system in place of the “intentions” of the system itself. For example, if the system were more “resilient” if the social system were fascist, then would our interest in democracy override our desire for resilience? It doesn’t seem likely to come up, in part because “resilience” is defined in such a way that it excludes fascism as an option. It seems tautological in that sense.

In place of SES theory, I have been thinking about proposing an alternative in a kind of performative or enacted ecology. This theory would maintain the basis in complexity, but forego systems. Instead, it would work under the assumption that ecologies are heterogeneous, composed of both humans and non-humans – but not socials systems and ecological systems – and that the ecology is composed over time through the (heterogeneous) relationships between these actors. There are no equilibria around which the ecology fluctuates, and there is no assumption that “resilience” is worth pursuing – there are only myriad actors with many different interests continually negotiating a tenuous coexistence, and always subject to change and uncertainty. So if the social structure is fascist, but the ecosystem is resilient in relation, then there would still be reason to seek out a non-fascist, resilient ecology. Furthermore, we must take into account the desires and intentions of all of the beings who compose the ecology, because the ecology has no intentions of its own – there is no right or natural way(s) for the ecology as a whole to be. Instead, we have to look to the beings and their relationships to understand what needs to change and what should stay the same.

In the case of the bait worm ecology, we can see that the relationship between humans and worms is not very good for the worms (because they are overharvested) and that this will eventually lead to problems for the humans. We can also see that the relationship between the transported organisms and the Mid-Atlantic environments (or those organisms who compose the environments) might not be very good for those environments. However, changing the way the people in the industry package and ship the worms might disrupt their livelihoods, leading to disruption in the angling communities, etc.

There is a place for science – both social and natural – in this conception of performative ecology, but that place is never outside looking in. The role of the sciences is to perform the ecologies by producing feedbacks between different actors within them. For example, the biologists on the project mentioned above provided a feedback between the species being transported and the people involved in the industry. We – the anthropologists – tried to provide feedback between the scientists and the people in the industry, and also – to some extent – between the people in the industry and the anglers who buy the bait (and presumably introduce the organisms into the new environment by disposing of them improperly). In other words, our role is to build relationships that didn’t exist before, improve (or, perhaps, destroy) relationships that aren’t working well for the participants. All throughout, we are engaging in our own relationships with others, which adds another layer of complexity to the situation. Our very presence introduces new feedbacks, and, as a result, a new tenuous coexistence must be negotiated – from an SES perspective, this might look like the creation of a new system or the system “flipping” to a new domain of attraction, but to me it looks like a set of actors continually negotiating their relationships and performing their ecology differently.

So my questions for my readers are: Am I making a genuine critique of SES theory or is this just a straw man? Is the performative ecology I propose actually different (in practice) from SES or is it functionally the same thing? If it is worthwhile, do you have any suggestions for how I can better articulate this alternative? Is there anything you would add or anything you see wrong with what I’ve proposed?

Experimental Entanglements

This post from Somatosphere inviting a discussion on Des Fitzgerald and Felicity Callard’s article hits the nail right on the head. In it they call for a reconceptualization of collaborative research in which the social and natural sciences are entangled through a process of experimentation. I highly recommend that you go and read it now!

Here are a few excerpts in case you’re not convinced, and after the excerpts a few comments of my own:

Our wager is that collaborating might be imagined not simply as working in conjunction with an other or others, but might also unsettle the sedateness of such ‘conjunction’.

and

Our article is the product of four to five years of shared distress at being, on the one hand, moved by technological and conceptual developments that hold out the hope of radically re-mapping dynamics between the social and biological sciences; and, on the other hand, a deep frustration, at every attempt to begin that cartographic work, where we seem to be endlessly confronted with a deadening bureaucratic and technocratic edifice of ‘interdisciplinarity’ – whose major purpose is to evacuate these possibilities of any real sense of experiment, risk, joy or play.

and

What if, instead of endlessly poring over maps of the shifting border of these sciences, vainly trying to reach a consensus on where those borders are at any given moment, we re-focused our attention on the neuroscientific experiment, as an already thick, ambiguous rubric for making sense of the biosocial intricacy of human life?

and

The world is entangled, whether we want it to be or not.

To the extent that we affiliate with a ‘collaborative turn,’ this – the clause above – is our entry-point. The purpose of a term like ‘entanglement’ is that it foregrounds a world, and also processes of world-making.

and

Our claim is that, for those of us in the medical humanities and social sciences at least, ‘collaboration’ is the work that comes after the ontological turn.

I’ll stop there, though there is a lot more in the post and article that I could quote, because this last point is what I’ve been trying to say – though in a much more haphazard and inarticulate way – for a long time. I believe that what the ontological turn does for anthropology is to push the issues raised in the literary and reflexive turn of the 1980s even further – to their ontological roots. That’s what it has done for me, at least, and I am disheartened when I see things like Hau’s recent book symposium on Kohn’s How Forests Think in which all of the discussion is about articulating different “ontologies” (read “cultures”) rather than exploring the implications of ontological thought for our practice. To me the practical extension of ontological politics is the reimagining of collaborative practices. Although Fitzgerald and Callard’s article explores this primarily for anthropology’s relationship to neuroscience, I have encountered the same issues and possibilities in my work with environmental sciences and with the Bureau of Land Management. The authors also leave open the question of how this looks in practice – choosing instead to explore the theoretical implications of entanglement and experiment – and I have some thoughts on that I hope to be sharing in published form soon. Regardless, the article is worth reading, and I look forward to the ongoing discussion.

Branding Revolution

I’ve seen a lot of discussion in mainstream media about Russell Brand’s book Revolution. I haven’t read it, so I can’t comment on the contents, but there seems to be some contention about his underlying motives for writing it and whether or not his advocating a revolutionary politics is hypocritical. I wouldn’t go so far as to call him hypocritical, but I would suggest that there are better way for him to take part in the kind of revolution he’s advocating.

Brand is a celebrity worth – according to Google – approximately $15 million. His book no doubt brings him a little more income, though it’s probably nothing compared to being in a movie, for example. So the problem is not that he’s profiting directly from the book and that profiting is not itself revolutionary. When I write a book, unless we are by then living in a socialist utopia, I would hope to make some money from it simply because I have to feed myself. Obviously that’s not Brand’s concern, but it seems unreasonable to condemn him for earning money from the book.

The problem I see is with the celebrity aspect of it. There is something to be said for a popular figure drawing attention to revolutionary ideals. However, Brand has essentially branded himself (forgive the pun) as a revolutionary hero – whether he intended to or not. As a result, his revolutionary zeal risks becoming part of a cult of personality that is decidedly anti-revolutionary. It’s possible this isn’t his desire or intention – it’s possible that it is (and if he then profits from this revolutionary Brand, then he would, in fact, be a hypocrite). Either way, though, this compromises the revolutionary value of the book (assuming it actually has any to begin with) and his persona because it draws attention away from those who are actually doing the work. The revolution becomes about Brand and not about substantive change.

This is why revolutionaries and activists – or really anyone fighting for a more just and sustainable society – need to have a degree of reflexivity and humility in their practice. Sometimes – and particularly for those who are wealthy and/or famous – the best way to contribute to a cause is to avoid putting oneself on the front line advocating for change. Sometimes it’s best just to get out of the way. That doesn’t mean don’t contribute and just live the bourgeois lifestyle your wealth and fame provide. It means think of other ways to contribute that don’t involve drawing attention to yourself. Support those who are doing the real fighting on the ground and in the streets. Give them the microphone and let them speak for themselves. Give them money so that they can keep fighting without having to worry about paying the rent or putting food on the table. Those are the kinds of actions that privileged classes (but also anyone) can do that won’t simply undermine everything those people are fighting for.

Why am I doing this?

Why do I keep working on environmental problems when there are issues like Ferguson, the Ebola outbreak, unmitigated global inequality, and so many others? Why, when people are being gunned down in the streets or dying needlessly of disease, am I busy dabbling around with nutrients and computer models? One answer – the most direct one – is that I am locked in. I’ve spent the last few years preparing for this topic, I’ve gotten NSF funding, and I can’t simply drop it now. And so, maybe any argument I make will only be justification to myself and others for why I continue to do what I’m doing. Am I wasting my time? Are the people working on those social issues – the people standing up against bullets in guns – doing the real work? Maybe.

I don’t know many people who would disagree that environmental issues are a major concern. Climate change threatens our very existence on this planet. Deforestation and pollution threaten the existences of many ecosystems, species, and cultures. But when I go to a meeting of the Upward Anthropology Research Community, we never talk about those problems. Instead we talk about state violence, race and gender discrimination, economic disparity, and other problems like that. I do see my work as a kind of upward anthropology, but it just doesn’t ring as meaningfully as the work that others are doing. I’m trying to get scientists, policy makers, environmental managers, and stakeholders to work together more effectively. I am not confronting bullets and tanks nor even the everyday violences that women, LGBTQ people, and people of color face on a daily basis. And yet I go on.

I go on in part because I am locked in. But I also go on because I firmly believe that environmental issues are as important as all of those others, and if we turn away from them now in order to fight these obviously more immediate and pressing concerns, we might find ourselves in a worse situation than ever before. I may not be standing up against literal bullets, but as I explained it to a friend in discussing this very issue, environmental destruction is a bullet in a gun pointed at all of our heads. Here’s the catch, though, we are not all equally put at risk by that bullet. Some people will be affected by these problems more than others, and faster than others: indigenous people, people who depend on the land, poor people, minorities, women – not to mention the many plants and animals with whom we share this world. As a result, the destruction of the environment is deeply entangled with the forces of structural oppression. It is by means of the disproportionate benefits and harms of a degraded environment that many people are forced into conditions of slavery, poverty, and marginalization.

In fact, it could be argued that the ability to determine one’s own environment – both socially and ecologically – is the basic condition of privilege. Those in power may at times use bullets to keep people under control, but bullets are only the manifest image of a much deeper and pervasive violence. It’s not that the bullets don’t matter, but that they wouldn’t mean anything if it weren’t for an already established inequality that the bullets can only reinforce in times of upheaval. That inequality rests on a number of factors, but one major factor is the alienation of the people from their environments. People who have the capacity to determine their environments have power, and it is only by taking this power away that bullets become meaningful.

So I continue my work with that in mind. The question is what is the ecological basis for the violences mentioned above? And how, in the technoscientific world in which we live, do we make it possible for people to determine their environments? My research is a part of the answer to that question, I hope.

Public Anthropology and Beyond

This has been a hectic few months, but good things are happening and work is moving along. One thing I’ve been working on a lot is the Upward Anthropology Research Community (also see our Facebook and Twitter page). We have a lot of big plans for the coming months – especially an off-conference workshop during the AAA conference in DC in December. We hope to get a good turnout, and so we’ll be doing a lot of publicizing and ramping up for that. As a result, you can expect it to be relatively quiet around here, but if you want to keep track of what I’m up to, you can take a look over at the UARC.

Part of the ramping up of the UARC is another workshop at the American University Public Anthropology Conference. The workshop will be held on October 4 from 2:30-4:30. That’s right before the keynote by Carole McGranahan titled “Tibet, Ferguson, Gaza: On Political Crisis and Anthropological Responsibility,” so come for the workshop and stay for the keynote – it should be good! I will also be giving a talk earlier in the day on collaborative modeling and environmental management.

Another thing on my agenda is remobilizing the Vulnerability volume that Adam Robbert and I were organizing a while ago. I’ve been in the process of contacting our previous authors to see if they’re still interested, and am also contacting new authors and contributors to see what else we can do with this thing. Hopefully we’ll see a book out of it soon! Thanks to everyone who has been tagging along and patiently waiting for me to get back to work. If you want to help or have any ideas for contributions, contact me and we’ll work it out.

Modeling TechnoEcologies

My dissertation research begins in earnest this semester, and I’m hoping to get most of the groundwork done before the new year. My research will explore the implications of a process-relational ecological praxis, in which human and non-human systems are viewed as entangled, enacted, and always becoming. Specifically, I will do this through an ethnographic engagement with computational environmental modeling as a practice for understanding, interacting, and managing environmental crises.

Computational modeling has become an “obligatory point of passage” for our understanding of and interactions with complex environmental systems. Every major environmental issue – climate change, sea level rise, nutrient pollution, deforestation, and so on – is understood and acted on through the mediation of computational models. Because these systems are so complex, so uncertain, and so threatened by human activities, we need models to understand them and to predict the effects of our actions – both harmful and restorative – on them.

Models are representations, we are told – simplified and scaled-down figures of a really existing world. They stand in for the systems they are meant to represent, and allow us to watch virtual humans interact with virtual natural systems, thereby providing a model for our actions as well as a model of the system itself. But from an enacted ecology perspective, the models and the practices and processes that constitute them must also be considered within the system they seek to model. Not that these processes should be included in the model itself, but that the way we produce and use models must be considered constitutive of the system it seeks to represent. There are many ways to go about producing and using computational models, and many different kinds of models to choose from. The question from this perspective is, how do these different kinds of models and modeling practices contribute differently to the production of different kinds of ecologies?

That’s the question I hope to explore in my research, but, carrying the logic of the ecological approach I’ve outlined further, I believe it is essential for me to view my own research practice as situated within this broader process-relational ecology. Not only am I concerned with the ways that computational modeling methods alter and affect the relationships between humans and non-humans, but I am also interested in the way that my own methods do so. As a result, I will approach my research as a situated praxis – enacting an ecological approach by navigating and negotiating the relationships that constitute the system within which I will be working – the Chesapeake Bay.

I’ll post updates here as the research progresses. Hopefully my readers will find it interesting and worthwhile. It’s definitely going to be a lot of thought and a lot of work, but if everything goes well, I should have a very good dissertation out of it.

For the Love of Science

I am afraid this is going to be a provocative piece, though it isn’t meant to be so. It’s provocative because science is a topic that touches a lot of nerves, and for which a lot of people have very strong opinions. In fact, it’s the strength of these opinions that disturbs me, and not so much the opinions themselves – for example the emphatic affirmation of “I Fucking Love Science!” and the enthusiastic denunciations on social media of those who are considered “anti-science.” Don’t get me wrong, I am not disturbed by these things because I want to identify with anti-vaxxers, climate deniers, intelligent designers, or even the anti-GMO crowd (though I have some sympathies with the latter, as some of you know). The reason these practices bother me is because they highlight the fact that science is embedded and entangled within the strutctures of patriarchal (is it surprising that most of those denounced as anti-science are women?), racist Capitalism.

I love science, and I too am disturbed by the claims and games of anti-science. I believe that scientific practices are an effective method for building relationships with others – particularly non-human others. What I want is to free these practices from the web of Capitalism, and I believe that simplistic, holier-than-thou denunciations of anti-science prevent that. Drawing such sharp lines without allowing for critical examination, grey areas, or room for negotiation only gives support to those anti-science claims as a kind of rogue intellectualism. You end up with two sides: one who will buy (figuratively and literally) anything that comes wrapped in anti-establishment packaging, and the other who will buy anything that comes with the Science™ branding. Whichever side you’re fighting for, the Capitalist system is the winner.

I want science to be the tool of revolutionary thought and action that many believe it has the potential for becoming. To me, that means that science will have to give up the authority built upon the patriarchal, racist, and Capitalist hierarchies in which it developed. Denunciations come from this authority, and only serve to alienate and isolate. In place of authority, I would like for science to have trust. Trust comes from being part of people’s everyday lives, making a positive difference to them, and working with them to pursue mutual goals. I am encouraged, in this respect, by the many participatory science projects that I see, and by organizations like The Public Laboratory that try to make scientific practices available and accessible to everyone. Unfortunately, with the spirit of denunciation and the fear that many scientists (justifiably) have of being attacked, there has also been a retreat from engagement and working with others. With that in mind, I ask simply that we think about our relationship to science, and consider exactly what it is we support and what it is we denounce when we engage in this pro-/anti-science dichotomy. For the love of science, it’s the least we can do!

Transformed by Area X

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I just finished the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. I can’t write a full review now because my mind is still reeling from the experience, but I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything so powerful, evoking, and strangely beautiful. Vandermeer’s style – unlike so much I’ve read in the recent past – genuinely immerses the reader in the experience of the uncanny Area X. I feel as though I have been transformed in the same way that the characters and the landscape in the novels are transformed. I find myself lingering in Area X, and looking for signs of it leaking into the world around me.

The Victims of Ferguson

It has been almost a month since Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. His still and bloodied body lay in the street for four hours as a silent reminder to residents and the nation that this is what it means to be black in the US. The violent police response to the protests and the media coverage of those events further highlight the disparities between indignant white people and outraged people of color. Taken together, and in conjunction with the recent murder of Eric Garner, the murder of Trayvon Martin, and a long history of police and vigilante violence against black bodies, these events are simply the flash in the pan that suggests a much more subtle, and long-standing systemic violence against people of color and otherwise marginalized groups. In that sense, all people of color in the US are victims* of Ferguson.

I want to make a claim, though, and I realize it is a controversial one, but I think it is important to make nonetheless. Bear with me as I tread lightly and try to explain what I mean.

My claim is this: Darren Wilson is also a victim of Ferguson. Now let me be clear, I say this not to justify his actions or to ask for sympathy towards him, and I, of course, am not suggesting that he has been falsely or wrongly accused of the crime that he has committed. I say it to, hopefully, make us all reflect on what Ferguson means for us all – people of all colors, socio-economic statuses, levels of privilege, genders, etc.

It is easy for people from my ideological perspective to see Darren Wilson simply as a villain who deserves to be punished for his crime. I certainly believe he does deserve punishment, however, I also see a person with a family and a life, trying to get by. That doesn’t justify his actions. It doesn’t mean we have to sympathize with him after what he did. It certainly doesn’t mean he should get off or get a light sentence. Michael Brown also had a family, also had a life, and was trying to get by – he doesn’t have that chance anymore, thanks to the actions of Darren Wilson. Michael Brown should not have been killed that day. He should not have been left in the street for hours. The protests and the police violence should not have happened. In a just world, none of it would have happened. Michael Brown would still be alive and off to his first semester at college, and Darren Wilson – who knows where he would be, but probably not sitting around in an undisclosed location waiting to find out if he was going to jail.

What brought us to this? Choices, certainly. Darren Wilson could have chosen not to kill Michael Brown on that day, and that is why he deserves whatever punishment is coming for him. But there is more to it. There are factors underlying those choices that – in those fateful moments – were beyond the control of either of the two men. To the extent that Ferguson is indicative of an underlying systemic inequality and violence – a social system in which black lives don’t matter – Darren Wilson is also a victim of Ferguson, and it is as such that he chose to kill Michael Brown that day.

Once again, I say this not to ask for sympathy for the man, and I certainly don’t want to trivialize the pain and suffering that has been inflicted on these black men and their families, nor the everyday challenges that are faced by people of color throughout the US. I say it to encourage us all to reflect on the way that Ferguson and the injustice and inequality that made it possible affect us. As long as we live in a system in which certain people are marginalized, kept down, and made killable, we are all victims. Even if we might benefit from such a system – and many of us do – we are still victims because our lives are impoverished by it. In that sense, we are all victims of Ferguson, and it is for this reason that – no matter our skin color, beliefs, gender, socio-economic status, position, or whatever – we all should join the struggle for justice, peace, and sustainability.

 

 

* I think it is important to note too, that people of color are more than just victims. They are, in fact, strong, proud, and good people who face this violent system with courage. Just because they are victims in the sense of being victimized doesn’t mean that they are victims in the sense of being passively abused.