Entries Tagged as 'Politics'

On Joe Biden

November 19, 2017

This week, I took my “repeal the patriarchy and white supremacy” show on the road! Since Joe Biden’s answer to a question I asked him made the news (also here), I wanted to share a bit more of the context.

Last Monday, I attended Glamour’s first-ever Women of the Year Summit. I attended the Women of the Year Awards in 2015 and it was an incredibly powerful and moving experience — truly, one of the highlights of my year. The WOTY Awards is held in a big theater in front of a large audience, but this year, they added a new event, the summit, which was smaller (about 300-400 people). It was a series of panels and talks featuring truly remarkable women and I was so, so thrilled to be in attendance.

The program said that the last panel of the morning before lunch would be Glamour EIC Cindi Leive in conversation with “surprise guests.” As it got closer, I thought that perhaps it would be HRC, especially because we kicked off the day with Chelsea. (Also, the security that morning had been surprisingly intense, which I didn’t think much of it until later.) Dallas guessed Michelle Obama. It turned out to be the Bidens. Which…fine! Cool!

I probably wouldn’t have felt so compelled to say something if Joe hadn’t spent so much time talking up his record on women. Look, he has done good, important things for women, and I’m all for tooting your own horn (OBVIOUSLY), but there was something about a white man coming into a room full of women and just sort of accomplishment-dropping (“When I wrote that legislation…”) to provide evidence of his wokeness that really rubbed me the wrong way. Also, I found him smug and just…pandering. I’m sorry, but saying things like “There’s not a single thing a man can do that a woman can’t” (to applause, of course) and openly adoring and supporting his career-woman wife is…pretty basic-ass shit. You know? Like, it’s easy to forget that in the year 2017, when there’s an unabashed misogynist and racist leading the country and we live in hell. But, sorry…Joe Biden ain’t special. (Even Dr. Biden says at one point, “We already knew that, Joe.”) Like, great job being a PERSON, Joe Biden. You don’t get a cookie for BEING A PERSON.

Anyway, the thing that really made me say “OK, but also…no,” is when the topic of Harvey Weinstein came up and Cindi said something to the effect of “What do you think of the argument that these men came from a different time, that they are old dinosaurs?” and Biden got out his soapbox and called bullshit on that. Which: great! It is bullshit! But as he went on to say that he’s from that same time, and his dad (also from a different time) raised him to know better, I just thought, But that’s probably the exact same defense he’d use if ever called to answer for his own behavior. And between that and him talking about how brave all the women who have come forward are and how “we have to change the culture,” all I could think about was Anita Hill.

And I couldn’t think about anything else.

I was texting my friend Sally with updates from the Summit throughout the day, and as I was having these thoughts, she texted me something like, “Ok but also….Anita Hill” and I was like, “Right???? THANK YOU.” So I was like, Ok, if they do a Q&A for this panel — which seemed HIGHLY UNLIKELY — I’ll try to get the mic and ask him about her. A few minutes later, I was looking down, taking notes, when Cindi said that she’d take a few questions at the end, and my head JERKED up. (I’m pretty sure everyone around me noticed.) Still, though, I knew that getting a mic was a long shot.

Aside from worrying about whether or not I’d be able to bring up Anita Hill, I was also debating whether or not it would really be appropriate for me to say something. After all, the Bidens were basically the guests of honor, and Cindi wasn’t interviewing them like a reporter. (Which: fine!) So I was sitting there asking myself whether or not the question I wanted to ask would be, essentially, rude. But then I thought, Well, the “rude” question would actually be “So hey, are you going to stop being kiiiiinda awfully handsy with women during photo ops?” so everyone should be happy I’m sticking to something a little easier. I also just kept thinking about two things women have said recently: “You can’t get away with this shit anymore.” And, “But what’s the alternative? To approve? I do not approve.”

I. DO NOT. APPROVE.

And as I weighed my options, I thought back to all of the panels from the morning, and I was kind of like, If anyone thinks this is inappropriate, I can quote back several amazing women who told us to be brave and fearless and to get in formation. To ask a serious question felt like it would be acting in the spirit of the summit. And as I considered the possibility of things going badly, I thought, Well, if there’s a hill worth dying on, Anita Hill is it.

To be clear, I do not expect a long life in public service to be without mistakes or growth, nor am I asking for purity from Democrats (though anyone who thinks reproductive justice is negotiable or that “identity politics” is real/a problem can kiss black ass). But I have zero patience for people who are incapable of a genuine apology, or who refuse to have a real, non-defensive reckoning with their own failings. And the more Biden talked, the angrier I felt.

So once the production people with mics sort of dispersed and the first audience member was asking her question, I, like, looked around until I spotted another production person holding a mic and basically communicated “I’mma need that mic” and she nodded at me and moved into position at the end of my row with it. (That was actually the scariest part for me — like, aggressively claiming a mic outside of the designated “now is when we raise our hands and ask to be called on” time. It felt impolite.)

So I got the mic and I stood up and said to Joe Biden, “My name’s Rachel Miller and my question is for the former vice president. In the context of changing the culture and women being brave enough to come forward [which he’d also said], I’m wondering if there’s anything that you would do differently with regards to Anita Hill if given the opportunity.”

And he said, “No.”

No.

And then he said, “Let’s get something straight here.”

Which — sure, is a thing an old white man can say to a black woman asking him a question at a women’s event about the shameful treatment of a black woman on a national stage. He is certainly allowed to say that, if he wants to. 

………..

Biden then went on to say a lot more words, but what he was really saying was, “I’m a good guy, I’m a good guy, I’m a good guy.” (The entire event was live streamed, and you can see the Bidens’ panel here; my question is at 25:53.) And here’s the thing: I have had eerily similar versions of this exact conversation several times over the past six weeks, and I am sick to goddamn death of men who have demonstrably not always been good guys immediately jumping in to defend themselves and tell me that I’m wrong — that they ARE, in fact, good (GREAT, even!!!), and I just don’t get it. They get emotional, they get belligerent, they get nasty as they try to get me to listen to the story of that one thing they did for a woman, like, three years ago. And they do this instead of, I don’t know, being introspective for one fucking second, and considering that maybe they are wrong. Maybe they aren’t great. Maybe they aren’t good. Maybe they aren’t that brave, maybe they didn’t always do everything they could have done, maybe they ignored certain things because they were ignorant or cowards or lazy or, hell, because “it was a different time.” But instead of pausing and thinking about how he could have done more, Biden, like so many other men, looked me dead in the eye and just said, “No.” No, I couldn’t have done more. No, I will not consider that I’m anything other than a good guy. I’m the hero of this story. Has no one told you that I’m the hero?

He ended his response with, “What I do feel badly about is the bad taste that got left in the mouth of some of the people around Anita Hill.”

Again: OK, but also…NO. 

After he finished speaking, I fully expected Cindi to accept his answer and pivot back to softball questions. (Which: fine! I know how this works.) But that’s not what happened. And this was actually kind of the best part for me. Cindi didn’t just let his narrative stand. She said, “If I can just follow up on that for one second…Professor Hill has said herself that she expected a fair process and did not feel that she had one. Do you, given your leadership on these kinds of issues, have any kind of message to her now?”

And Biden said, “Well, my message, which I’ve delivered before [translation: Why are you wasting my time with this?] is that I am so sorry if she believed that.”

I am so sorry if she believed that.

I am so sorry IF she believed that.

And then he followed it up with, “I feel really badly she didn’t feel like the process worked.”

I’m sorry if. I feel badly that she felt.

And then, for good measure, he finished it up with a little bit more about how he was the hero. He talked about “the shouting matches I had with those witnesses who were attacking her” and then finished with, “I said something at the time that proved to be right. I said this is going to be the start of a fundamental change of what constitutes harassment in the workplace, and people are gonna begin to change.”

I said something at the time that proved to be right.

I just…what a gross thing to say here. “I said something at the time that proved to be right.” It’s not really surprising, but that smug-ass delivery was still enraging. 

I DO NOT APPROVE!!!

Later that night, at the WOTY Awards, there were a lot of surprise appearances, including when Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohy — the journalists who broke the Weinstein story — dropped in and talked about #MeToo, and then said that four survivors of sexual harassment who told their stories in the name of justice would be joining them on stage. And then the name “Anita Hill” appeared in huge letters on the screen and I blurted out, “Oh, holy shit,” and then started crying for like the dozenth time that day. (Watch the video here.) It was really incredible, seeing her there and listening to her speak. (Especially right after seeing Zendaya give Maxine Waters a Lifetime Achievement Award.)

“I saw that we had a chance to shift this narrative,” Hill said on stage. And to that in particular, I hope we can all look back someday and say, “Me too.”

A post-Charlottesville reading list

August 20, 2017

Here is the thing I want white liberals to know about Charlottesville: I highly doubt that most 2016 Republican/Trump voters are terribly upset about Nazis marching with torches, or that the past week has been any sort of tipping point for them. I would love to be wrong about this, but it seems pretty unlikely that if you voted for him/this party, that you’d suddenly be like, Oh, wow, these statues *do* need to come down, or that you’d actually see a difference between neo-Nazis and BLM (a LOT of white people think Black Lives Matter is a hate group! a lot!!!), or that you’d care if the POTUS said both sides had bad people — because you probably agree. And also, intimidation of or violence against black people (or the white people who care about us) actually…doesn’t…move…a lot of white people? I don’t think they really care what happens to us or care if a Nazi drives a car into a crowd of us, because they believe on some level that we deserve what we get if we don’t know our place. And that sucks! But, like, come on — most of those “nice” white Republicans (like the parents of all my friends growing up, and a not-insignificant amount of my college friends) or even the “nice” white people who “don’t do politics” aren’t actually bothered by any of this, or have honestly even thought that much about it at all. And if you think that I am wrong about this, please go read the comments from all the “nice” white ladies on this video of Heather Heyer’s mother on GMA

Onto the reading list…

White Feelings: 0-60 for Charlottesville, Erynn Brook.

White Liberals Still Don’t Understand White Supremacy, Harper’s Bazaar. “Racism doesn’t always look like the KKK marching hoodless in broad daylight. Racism also looks like white liberals getting angry at people of color who ask them to confront how they benefit from white supremacy and white privilege. It looks like white women telling me that I am being divisive by asking for an honest conversation about race and racism within feminist circles. It looks like tone-policing, emotional labor, objectification, fetishization, the white-savior complex, staying silent when you hear overt racism, saying nothing about working in a mostly white to all-white office, ignoring gentrification and the school-to-prison pipeline, loving The Help but hating Girls Trip.”

The Truth About Women and White Supremacy, The Cut. “Tyler spearheaded the Women of the Klu Klux Klan, the all-women, autonomous arm of the KKK that had roughly half-a-million members during the 1920s. As I wrote in a Timeline piece on the WKKK, the organization was savvier than its male counterpart because ‘they were better than the men’s group at hiding their white supremacist mission behind a facade of social welfare.’ The group helped to normalize the terrorism of the men’s KKK. Pamphlets from the time read, ‘Are you interested in the Welfare of our Nation? As an Enfranchised woman are you interested in better government?’ Through picnics, lunches, and cross burnings, these white women rallied around racist immigration laws, anti-miscegenation, and segregation.”

And some other “nice” white ladies.

The Many Lives of Hazel Bryan, Slate.

Love Needs Fury To Defeat Hate, Fader. “Neither is love inaction, silence, or complicity. Love does not stand down in the face of terror. Love does not demand silence in the face of injustice or submission in the face of oppression and its attendant brutalities. Real love proves more expansive and powerful than previously imagined when tested by the specter of death.”

For Our White Friends Desiring to Be Allies, Sojourners. “Privilege means that you owe a debt. You were born with it. You didn’t ask for it. And you didn’t pay for it either. No one is blaming you for having it. You are lovely, human, and amazing. Being a citizen of a society requires work from everyone within that society. It is up to you whether you choose to acknowledge the work that is yours to do. It is up to you whether you choose to pay this debt and how you choose to do so. Sometimes living with privilege can disillusion us into thinking that being in community with other humans doesn’t require work. This is a lie; it requires a great deal of work. And all of that work requires being a human and trying to love other humans well.” This quote will stick with me for a long time.

There Was Never Doubt Over What Trump Thought of Charlottesville, Salon. God, the number of “Why won’t he just denounce the neo-Nazis?” headlines this week was OUTRAGEOUS. WE KNOW WHY.

Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?, The New Yorker. The article is less terrifying than the hed, FYI.

How Corey Long Fought White Supremacy With Fire, The Root.

Father of White Nationalist Denounces His Son After Charlottesville: He’s ‘Not Welcome at Family Gatherings Any Longer’, The Cut. TBH, I thought this was going to be kind of basic, but it’s legit.

Why the Charlottesville Marchers Were Obsessed With Jews, The Atlantic.

If you’re still sad about the removal of these statues, please read this thread about the origins of Confederate monuments, and just how worthless they are.

Speaking of statues, can y’all get this out of the goddamn Capitol?

“Condemning killing is the easiest thing. It does not take courage. It doesn’t mean one supports the advancement of civil rights or equality.” Read this thread from Hannah Nikole-Jones.

This episode of The Daily is great — legitimately so inspiring.

And here’s one link that’s just for my black and brown friends who are reading this.

I’ll post my regular links for the week later tonight.

03. Size matters

January 22, 2017

Text in the photo of my journal is from Masha Gessen’s Autocracy: Rules for Survival

So, you may have heard that we got a new President this week, and also that a few of us took to the streets on Saturday to express our displeasure. Millions of people marched all over the world, including in small cities and tiny — red — towns as well. This is what we were marching for.

The inauguration was surreal; every time the band played cheery music, I felt like I was watching a horror movie, and at one point a chill literally went down my spine. The speech was awful and dark, but of course it was. The crowds were relatively small, but of course they were. I genuinely liked Melania’s dystopian Hunger Games Kate Middleton costume, and I thought that Hillary looked magnificent and I hope she was on so many drugs, but she probably wasn’t because she’s a pro. I appreciated that Bill took her arm and not the other way around.

On Saturday morning, we were walking to the train when a car pulled up. “You all going to the Metro? Get in, I’ll drive you.” We got in. The driver was 70-year-old black woman, who told us that she was at the original March on Washington. She said she was too old to march today but still wanted to support, hence the ride. It was humbling, a nice start to the day.

We spent a lot of time before the march taking in the glorious signs and the glorious crowds. We stood in the holding pen area for a while as it filled with people, and then 1:15 came and went, and then 1:30. Then we learned that there were actually too many of us to match on the the planned route, so we took to the surrounding streets (which were already closed/empty) instead. After two hours of standing, it felt good to move, and to yell. We held our signs high and chanted “What do we want? Equality. When do we want it? NOW” and “Black Lives Matter” and “We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter,” and, in one of my favorite moments, stood outside Trump’s newest hotel in DC and shouted “Shame! Shame! Shame!” over and over again. There were so many people in the streets — truly, it was stunning to get up a small hill at point and then look back and take in the thick wave of people as far as the eye could see (and this was only on ONE street) — and also the weather was bearable and I somehow got through the entire day without having to pee once.

A couple of weeks ago, the Washington Post published an extremely bad take entitled “The Women’s March needs passion and purpose, not pink pussycat hats.” I thought it was incredibly stupid at the time, but after being there on Saturday, I felt even angrier about it. Symbols matter. Women’s art matters. To see thousands of people — men, women, and children, of all ages and races and ability levels (and, presumably, orientations and gender identities) — wearing the same hat throughout the city all weekend was powerful. I was genuinely surprised by how many people were wearing them everywhere I went. And the fact that the hats were handmade, one by one, in the grand female tradition of sewing/knitting circles — the fact that thousands of people, across the country, took the time to knit these hats for themselves and their friends and their daughters and for perfect strangers so that a group of people could clearly say who they were and what they stand for (and what they stand against) — made them beautiful. It was a lovely antidote to those fucking red baseball caps (which give me so much anxiety), and a powerful reminder that people who shit on traditionally female art forms need to have a seat. (Also: I never was able to actually get a hat!!! My biggest regret from this weekend, actually.)

A lot of people have been saying that marches and protests have no place in this day and age and no longer matter; obviously, criticism and accountability is fine/valid/necessary, and the reminders that this is only the beginning are important, but I think it’s worth pointing out that, among other reasons, this march mattered because of who this president is. Do I think someone like Mike Pence gives a fuck about more than two million Americans protesting his Handmaid’s Tale views on women? Of he doesn’t. But Trump, who desperately wants to be popular and liked, who cares so little for facts and science and norms and reason but so much about ratings and numbers? Who took such pride in the “size” of his crowds during the campaign? I think that masses of people in the streets was actually the perfect way to get under his skin. He has already set the standard that crowd size matters. And with the world watching, we made him look undeniably small.

Here’s what else I got up to this week…

Reading

The Complicated, Controversial, Historic, Inspiring Women’s March, NY Mag. “‘From the beginning the only question the media wanted to ask us was whether we had a permit,’ said Linda Sarsour, the Palestinian-American Muslim activist who is one of the four national co-chairs. It was almost funny, the fetishization of the question of whether thousands of angry women literally had permission to show up and protest. Sarsour felt it was indicative of a basic distrust of women as serious activists and organizers. ‘Logistics became the main focus,’ she said. ‘As if women were not sophisticated enough to know how to obtain permits. I was like, Can someone ask me about my principles and values?‘”

The Radical Possibility of the Women’s March and The Somehow Controversial Women’s March on Washington, The New Yorker.

A March Can Change Your Life, NY Mag. I actually attended the March for Women’s Lives in DC when I was a wee lass — yes me, Rachel, a country mouse from an area with loads of economic anxiety boarded a bus in Flint, Michigan and took it all the way to Washington, D.C., where the liberal coastal elites lived, because even in the year two-thousand-fucking-four and at the age of 18, I somehow understood that there was a world beyond my economically depressed, white, Catholic bubble and also that women should have the right to control our fucking bodies and oh my god I just remembered how much I hate this condescending fucking election narrative and now I’m angry again.

Here Are All The Best Signs From Women’s Marches Across America, BuzzFeed.

Eve L. Ewing’s inaugural poetry, The Rumpus. “with all the mean they learned from you.” (h/t SMI)

Not My President, Not Now, Not Ever, The New York Times. “Mr. Trump isn’t my president. I don’t mean it emotionally; I mean it literally. It’s not sloganeering; it’s observable truth. Mr. Trump has no intention of representing me, my family, the people I care about, or the majority of Americans, from the imperiled to the comfortable. It is a stretch to call him anyone’s president but his own.”

Without a path from protest to power, the Women’s March will end up like Occupy, The Guardian.

Trump’s Speech Gave Us America the Ugly. Don’t Let It Become Prophesy., NY Mag.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters Will Read You Now, ELLE.com.

‘He Has This Deep Fear That He Is Not a Legitimate President’, Politico.

How Jokes Won the Election, The New Yorker.

Ben Carson’s Nomination is an Offense to America, TIME. “So—would we accept a celebrity chef in charge of the Pentagon? What we would all say in unison if President-elect Trump dared to make such a nomination is this: No. Our men and women in uniform deserve nothing less than the most qualified leader. And they do. As do the millions of men and women who benefit from a smart, effective HUD. And by accepting the appointment of Dr. Carson, we implicitly tell them: Be okay with run-down neighborhoods and towns. If you were denied a lease because of your skin color, be okay with it. And if you aspire to find a quality, affordable place to call home, please contact the Housing Secretary who knows nothing about housing.”

Republican Lawmakers in Five States Propose Bills to Criminalize Peaceful Protest, The Intercept.

This, on Sean Spicer’s lies.

Our kids may never get the chance to know America, The Correspondent. “We are living in a rupture, and we might not make it back.”

What Happened When I Cut the PEOTUS Out of My Life, ELLE.com.

The Nihilistic Purity of the Far Left Will Kill Us All, Sammy Leonard on Medium. “These grandiose motherfuckers LOVE to do nothing but shit on Democrats who aren’t 100% perfect progressives when they’re in office — which is pretty much everybody — and love to go on and on about how “both sides are the same” and how ‘we’re fucked either way’. And when a right-wing extremist that would inflict pain and suffering to the most marginalized populations inevitably comes to power, suddenly they want to either complain about how fucked we are, revel in the prospect of the ‘revolution’ that will finally be at hand, or try to wash their hands of their complicity and say ‘don’t blame me, I voted for (fringe minor party candidate)’ and use it to advocate the ‘necessity’ of a third party.”

Security Tips Every Signal User Should Know, The Intercept. (Related: Worried About the Privacy of Your Messages? Download Signal.)

Slutty-Cozy Is the Perfect Aesthetic, Racked. I relate to this deeply.

Here’s What ‘The Bachelor’ Stars Really Eat While Filming, Delish.

What is keeping bears out of our schools?, The Washington Post. “Fish are always in schools. All mammals are in a class. What is keeping bears out? I can understand why bears do not attend college: SAT tutoring is out of their price ranges. But I don’t understand what is deterring them from putting in an appearance at our nation’s many exceptional institutions of primary education.”

To Obama With Love, and Hate, and Desperation, The New York Times Magazine. JUST A HEAD’S UP THAT THIS STORY ABOUT THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE MAIL ROOM IS SO LOVELY AND WILL MAKE YOU CRY ACTUAL TEARS.

Things that made me say “WHAT NO I’M FINE I ALWAYS SCREAM ENDLESSLY LIKE THIS JUST IGNORE ME I WILL TIRE OF SCREAMING AND FALL ASLEEP EVENTUALLY”

Republican Men Say It’s a Better Time to Be a Woman Than a Man, The New York Times. “‘It’s easier being a woman today than it is a man,’ he said in an interview. ‘The white man is a low person on the totem pole. Everybody else is above the white man.'” 1. GFY, and 2. Stop saying “totem pole.”

Why Obamacare enrollees voted for Donald Trump, Vox.

All the reasons you could be denied insurance coverage before the ACA.

Who Trump voters apparently think Donald Trump is.

Loving

These women singing and the many faces of Maxine Waters. “Fuck him up, Elsie.” Samantha Bee on Kellyanne Conway (this entire episode was great), this lolsob Twitter thread (be sure to read the responses), Nick Offerman in a pink pussy hat, and a reminder not to toss your Metro cards. This tweet and this one. Obama on the origin of his “Fired up, ready to go!” chant. And this perfect poem.

The week ahead…

Wondering why it’s so goddamn hard for the national news media to not do shit like this and this.

You can take my gun as long as I can keep my phone.

August 27, 2015

Photo by Beth Retro

Photo: Beth Retro / Society6

Another day, another angry man shooting. I was sitting on the News side of the office yesterday — the air conditioning is broken on the Life and Buzz side, so many of us have set up shop on the other side to stay sane — when suddenly the room broke out in gasps and several “OH MY GOD”s. It was incredibly unsettling, and I had a sick feeling the rest of the day because I couldn’t stop thinking about what they must have seen that would elicit that sort of reaction.

Today the conversation has sort of turned, as it often sort of does, to gun control, mental illness, and whether it’s “too soon” to have a conversation about guns. But when the father of the victim says it’s not too soon, and, in fact, starts the conversation, I think we’re definitely OK to go ahead and talk about it.

As I (foolishly, I know) read the comments on some of the posts about the murders of Alison Parker and Adam Ward and the attempted murder of Vicki Gardner yesterday, it’s sort of amazing to see how many gun enthusiasts (or the people who don’t own guns but who align themselves with the politics of gun enthusiasts) feel super strongly that the Second Amendment is there for our own good. That owning a gun is a constitutional right that must be protected because it’s a valid one. And it’s valid because gun ownership is… the only thing keeping America from having its very own Hunger Games?

The Onion has perfectly summed up how absurd that idea is. And yet Ted Cruz recently called gun ownership the “ultimate check against governmental tyranny — for the protection of liberty.” And yet another senator said the Second Amendment was written “to balance a tyrannical force here.” (He said this after 20 children were murdered in their classrooms two weeks before Christmas.) And yet. And yet. And yet.

YOU GUYS. Come ON.

I mean, first of all, the way the Second Amendment is being interpreted by most of these types is suspect as hell. But even if you believe that the founding fathers had keeping tyranny at bay when they were writing the Constitution, and even if you believe they would be against, IDK, re-evaluating some of the things they did or didn’t put in the Constitution as society and technology evolved… I legitimately don’t understand how one could believe this notion of keeping tyranny in check idea is THAT compelling in modern America… mainly because I’ve never thought that a gun would keep me safe if those with power wanted to fuck with me.

To be clear, I don’t have a ton of trust of those in power at this point in my life. But the true threats to my life and liberty will likely not be stopped with a weapon, because the people who want to take those things away from me will pretty much always have a bigger weapon than I ever could.

If a man decides it’s appropriate to grab me from behind and slit my throat because I refuse to go out with him, a gun probably won’t do a whole lot for me. If a group of people want to stop me from having the abortion I need to stay alive, a gun isn’t going to save me. When I showed up to vote without a Texas ID in Houston, a gun wouldn’t have helped me. (Being middle class sure did, though!) A gun wouldn’t save me from being raped by this cop, or keep a group of cops from forcibly fingering me in a gas station parking lot because they “smelled marijuana” during a traffic stop like they did this woman. If someone wants to see me thrown in jail for existing while black, a gun isn’t going to save me — in fact, it’s actually pretty likely to ensure that I end up fucking dead.

Perhaps the people who believe they need a gun for protection don’t realize how little they have to be afraid of in terms of institutionalized violence. I mean, if you’re white dude, you can show up to Target with a gun as part of a “peaceful protest” for gun rights. If you’re black and engaged in a peaceful protest about the well-documented police brutality that is actually taking away the rights of you and your children and your partner and your friends… well, then, your phone is a much better choice as far as defense systems go.

Because at least our phones have Twitter. And Vine. They have the blog posts that explain what, exactly, your rights are when you’re stopped by the cops. They can create hashtags and have apps that ensure your videos will automatically go to the cloud even if the phone gets taken or smashed. They have the platforms and access to the communities that allow people to talk openly about what is happening. And then there’s the photos. And the voice recordings, location data, and timestamps. The unedited videos. All the little bits of evidence and megabytes that are helping marginalized people get their stories heard and taken seriously.

So yeah, go ahead and make it hard for me to own a gun… in terms of keeping tyranny in check, the main thing I care about remaining in possession of is my phone. (And, God help me, a charger.)

#TURNOUTFORWHAT

October 7, 2014

This video is basically my favorite thing ever.

Skeet, skeet, skeet!

I stand with Wendy…literally

August 24, 2014

So, I saw Wendy Davis speak in Houston yesterday…and then this happened.

Wendy Davis

I’m not even close to over it yet.

Team Wendy

August 10, 2014

Thursday was the fourth anniversary of my move to Texas. Some days, I still feel like I just moved here, and other days I feel like I’m really getting the hang of it. But one thing that’s making me feel more at home in this crazy state is joining the group of Texans who are working to turn Texas blue and put a new governor in office.

Eric and I recently offered up our spare bedroom as supporter housing for Team Wendy, and our boarder arrived yesterday! She works full-time for the campaign and living closer to HQ (and not having to sit in Houston traffic for two hours a day) will allow her to do her job better. I’m really excited to be able to support the campaign in this way, and to have her around! (When she’s not working her ass off seven days a week, that is.)

Spent: Looking for Change

July 26, 2014

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, I recommend watching the documentary “Spent: Looking for Change.”

From the film’s website:

Spent: Looking for Change is a film about everyday Americans without the financial options most of us take for granted and the movement giving them renewed hope.

Turning to pawn shops, check cashing services, and using payday loans to meet basic financial needs can be costly for many of us, with $89 billion a year going to fees and interest2 for using these types of alternative financial services.

It’s time for change. New technology, new ideas and encouraging dialogue around this issue can help make managing money simple and more affordable.”

Eric and I watched it last weekend and both really enjoyed it. (I mean, as much as you can enjoy a film about a sad topic.) Two of the documentary’s subjects are from the Houston area, and we’re pretty sure one of them lives in the apartment complex adjacent to the one we used to live in. The film is only about 40 minutes long and you can watch the entire thing for free on YouTube

On the table: Things we should probably just leave be

July 22, 2014

leave britney alone

The theme of my day has been Leave Britney alone, where “Britney” = the following…

1. The Affordable Care Act.

2. Black parents.

So, this morning Eric and I had a little debate about a segment we saw on “The Today Show.” It focused on a new curfew that will go into effect in Baltimore next month; children under 14 will have to be inside by 9 p.m. and 14- to 17-year-olds will have to be in by 10 on school nights and 11 on weekends. Kids who are out after that time will be picked up by the cops and taken to a detention center. Parents will then have to pay a $500 fine (though it could be less) or take a family education class. (No word on whether you can take the class if it happens more than once.)

The curfew sounds mostly fine in theory (cue the “Why does a kid that young need to be out that late alone?” chorus where everyone forgets what it was like to be a teenager), and “The Today Show” poll had 97 percent of people saying they thought it was a good idea. Eric was surprised the number was so high; I responded, “Well, 97 percent of the Today Show’s audience is white.” And then he gave me this look of, “How did you get a racial issue out of that?”

Well, because I had noticed that pretty much all of the parents and children shown in the segment (even just in the B-roll) were black. And my first thought was, This sounds like a stop and frisk law for teens and tweens. Maybe some people are comfortable with cops being responsible for black kids and teenagers, but I’m sure as hell not. Eric didn’t believe me that it was only black people shown, but thanks to the magic of DVR, I was able to show him that that was the case. Still, he seemed skeptical. I said that the $500 fine just seemed like a way to punish poor and/or minority parents…which led us to discussing the recent story about Debra Harrell, the single mother who left her 9-year-old daughter in the park while she worked all day at McDonald’s. (She could not afford childcare.) A “concerned parent” called the police and Harrell was arrested for child endangerment. Oh, and Think Progress reported today that Harrell has since been fired from McDonald’s. So, great. Great job getting involved, everybody! 

3. Preserve. Unless you want to read some, um, intense prose about ice cream sundaes, skip the new lifestyle website. 

Dallas News: Refusing sanctuary to children in need

July 3, 2014

“Exactly 75 years and one month ago the St. Louis, a German trans-Atlantic liner carrying 938 Jewish refugees, was turned away from the United States, forced to return to Europe. U.S. law didn’t allow them sanctuary.

Today we are preparing to send 45,000 children back to Central American countries controlled by drug cartels that routinely torture, rape and kill children who refuse to work for them. So routinely, so often are children menaced that their families sent them away, alone, across thousands of miles on just the slimmest of hopes that they might be safe.

U.S. law doesn’t allow them sanctuary.”

— Christine Wicker in Refusing sanctuary to children in need in the Dallas News. This op-ed might ruin your 4th of July (I couldn’t get through it without bawling), but it’s a must-read.

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