A sad walk to say goodbye and thanks

This “Organ Donor Walk of Respect” is such a meaningful gesture for a family that are themselves making such powerful gifts to fellow humans. The comments are also very moving, with many donors and recipients sharing their stories.

I talk about politics a lot but I’m also eager to take this opportunity to encourage organ donation. I’ve made sure my family knows I want to donate everything that doctors can use to save or prolong as many lives as possible after I’m gone and then cremate the rest. I believe that’s best for humanity and the environment.

I can only hope that someday, a medical team will be as kind to my next-of-kin as these fine people are to their donor families.

If you’d like to register as a donor, here’s a resource.

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Happy Coming Out Day 2018!

Happy Coming Out Day to all my friends and neighbors everywhere who live your true selves openly, bravely, and with love — today and every day. Your honesty makes the world more beautiful and welcoming for everyone around you, whether they recognize it or not. Every time you defy conformism and oppression to pursue your own freedom and happiness, you help make the trail safer and clearer for anyone a step behind you — while you support and honor all those who fought their way through the thicket before you. Thanks for showing the world exactly who YOU are so others can see and be who THEY are. I myself owe each of you a debt as I forge my own path, which continually weaves in and out of respectability and conventionality. It is thanks to you that I can enjoy my nontraditional, liberated, hedonistic and yes, *queer* life without apology and free of shame. 

I see you, I love you, I celebrate you, I embrace you, and I am grateful. ❤

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Reporting ‘sexual assault by a child’? Your racism is showing

CW: angry but nonviolent racial confrontation, gentrification, traumatized kids

This one is close to home, literally, as it happened very near the neighborhood I’ve lived in for about 10 years. Strident white lady immediately dubbed “Cornerstore Caroline” seems to call 911 because a 9yo boy touched her butt (unclear whether it was accidental or on purpose). As soon as the kids hear “cops” they are terrified. (Way to go, America!) Neighbors respond angrily and protectively.

Look, maybe the kid touched her. I doubt it was on purpose, but that’s possible. Even if the kid did touch her, this was a teachable moment, not a crime. This reaction was wrong even if the touch was intentional (and there’s *plenty* of room for doubt on that). Children do wrong and adults teach them to do better.

I once watched a 11- to 13-year old boy on my primary subway line touch a woman, subtly but definitely in an exploratory way. He did it once, and then, emboldened, he did it again. She did not notice. He looked up to see if anyone was watching and saw I definitely was. I looked at him *very* sternly, pointedly, with all the middle-aged-auntie silent thunder I could muster, and slowly shook my head. He got the message. I saw his guilt and shame. I hope he carries the memory of those feelings with him and it helps him have more restraint in the future.

I didn’t say a word, I didn’t embarrass or endanger him, and he learned. I didn’t fault him for being a child but I didn’t miss the opportunity to let him know he was doing wrong. This is “the village” raising a child. The cops, terror and trauma should have no part in it.

Whereas here, the reaction is totally off-base and unhinged. He’s 9! I don’t care if he ran up and grabbed both cheeks with both hands and made a honking noise, it’s still not “sexual assault by a child” against a full-grown woman — that does not exist. Seeing brown children as criminals is a symptom of racism. I’m sad for her, and angry for our community, that she has this view of her young neighbors.

Beyond the obvious racism, I question the general stability and authenticity of the woman making the call. After saying, without irony, that she was “sexually assaulted by a child” and then repeatedly acknowledging that she’s being videoed, she shouts out her phone number and full address, concludes with the weird “Goodbye 9-1-1 operator” and says “post that on Worldstar” — what?!?

This incident is real, the children’s and neighbors’ reactions are real, their taking offense is real. But was that call fake? Is this some kind of intentional action designed for attention? Am I playing in to someone’s propaganda? Not sure.

So let’s not say that this should go viral because of the woman’s actions — but let’s do look at how the neighbors authentically respond to this kind of white aggression (whether the call is staged or not). That’s a little bit of a silver lining. The times are changing because we’re changing the times.

Adding some dialogue with my smart and sensitive friend Mia, which I’ll do in alternating blocks for clarity:

As a POC pointed out on another thread, giving her the benefit of the doubt that she is “unwell” is something that we only do for White people. I’d like to share her words because she said it so well, and it really resonanted with me and made me rethink my response: “The media labels mass murders and rapists and all manner of White criminals as unwell as to not have them be accountable for their egregious actions that they made with sound minds.

It has since become a part of White America’s (and to some degree all American’s) thinking and vernacular, due to conditioning, to blame the bad deeds and criminals acts of White people on unwellness.

This fraudulent excuse, excusable condition, mitigating circumstance is not applied to PoC, not even the truly diagnosed mentally ill when they are murdered by police. These PoC are somehow accountable for their own deaths despite their mental illnesses; there is no mitigation.

Please be more mindful of your speech. She is NOT clearly unwell. We have zero evidence of that from this video. That’s a conditioned assumption.

Why don’t we assume she’s an evil, unkind, deplorable human being as would be applied to her by most Americans if she were a person of color with the same or similar behaviors.”

I replied:

I definitely agree with this point, and thanks for making it. It’s also only white men that are lone wolves even at the pack grows. Do you think that I similarly let her off the hook here? I did say I questioned her stability, but I never was willing to attribute her racism to mental health issues.
My bigger question was not whether she was influenced by racist conditioning (she is) or why she has that mentality but that her actions were so odd that I thought that it was some kind of stealth right wing baiting… like the the Planned Parenthood hoax, the “feminist” acid attacker, etc.
I’m pretty careful not to spread misinformation, so I didn’t want to share without that caution. If I do seem to be pulling the punch, I can make it clearer in the future that I am not willing to offer racists that excuse or shelter in the future.

You’re always extremely thoughtful in your words and I appreciate that. I think that questioning the veracity of this is super legit. I do think that bringing her stability into it at all is pulling a punch.

Aha ok. I’ll be clearer. I think someone can be unstable and act unhinged without being mentally ill. I meant it in the poor self-control and judgment way. I think everyone has had moments where anger or outrage floods their brains and they get cloudy thinking or act weirdly without being actually ill. The “touch” set off some kind of emotional reaction and racism escalated it, then despite a bit of self-awareness, she kept going. Clearly she has the kind of personality where she can’t back down easily. A more balanced (generally stable) person would not have gone so far.

I do appreciate the spotlight on the word choice though, and I’ll try to make sure I watch myself for ableism signals and contextualize if I feel I need to use them.

AND of course, might as well add: Lots of mentally ill people *do not* act out all the time… that’s another bit of ableism we (I as well) need to keep in mind and eliminate. Illness does not mean 24/7 unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, and most ill people are not dangerous to anyone.

All cogent points, especially the ableism. I propose also that discussing her lack of self-control also blunts the underlying cause of her actions, which is racism.I feel that’s really important because (for me) her actions are so shocking that it’s natural to try and wrap our brains around it, but it’s actually fairly simple.
The more I think about it, that simplicity is wrapped up in holding people accountable. I had never thought of it this way, because I like to understand people’s motivations and be nuanced in my thinking and discussions. However, I don’t want to focus so much on nuance that I unwittingly give anyone a pass – i want to do the most good in talking about these things, and I think that is best accomplished by being clear.

Hmmm ok I’ll think about that. This is not disagreement…

I think identifying causes is where it starts and unfucking our thinking is essential for change but actions are what we can sanction and censure as a society.
On the one hand, we want to transform society, but failing that, I also want to Make Racists Afraid Again. Like, if you’re going to hold on to your shitty thoughts and opinions, fine, but keep that shit in your head because we have a culture to progress here.

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Election SHENANIGANS in Georgia, y’all

This kind of thing chills me to the bone.

What’s happening at this minute with threats to Georgia voting rights is completely possible in any state. We already know similar suppression is happening in Alabama. This story is not very long, but it’s a must-read — another ailing coal-mine canary we must not ignore.

The GA Secretary of State is in charge of elections and voter registration, and is ALSO the Republican candidate for governor?!!? SHENANIGANS.

“[In what] Kemp calls voter roll maintenance and his opponents call voter roll purges, Kemp’s office has cancelled over 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012. Nearly 670,000 registrations were cancelled in 2017 alone.”
…”Georgia’s population is approximately 32 percent black, according to the U.S. Census, but the list of [53,000] voter registrations on hold with Kemp’s office is nearly 70 percent black.”

Democrats aren’t perfect but it’s only Republicans that create voter suppression and purge policies and call that “ensuring election integrity.” It’s straight-up Orwellian doubletalk and it’s terrifying, honestly. If they think they can’t win, they just brazenly cheat. They can, and they do, and they barely bother to disguise it. Simply denying the obvious is easier and just as effective. 

This moral bankruptcy is ethically indefensible and yet another proof that American representative democracy is a basically a fiction. Idealism is cute but what we have to do is FIGHT.

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What is White Feminism, in my own words (& the words of some nonwhite womanists)

I think we all know that Swifty is generally peak white feminism, but today no criticism from me on this, only praise — an Instagram post that results in 65K voter registrations only gets ups from me.

Then someone defensively asked what “white feminism” is, so this is what I said:

“White Feminism” is thinking/actions, usually by educated white women, that put the concerns of educated, white, middle-class and affluent women above the additional and separate concerns of women of color. It’s usually passive and tone-deaf, sometimes well-meaning but always ultimately unhelpful. It’s quite different from personal antipathy to people of color but it’s a symptom of overall culturally entrenched white supremacy.
Privilege blindness is well in play here: The struggles of non-white women just do not occur to the archetypal White Feminist, who is usually surprised to have her privilege checked and will get very, very defensive and either teary or angry in response.

Taylor definitely has done a range of this, repeatedly. Specifically, Taylor is well known to complain about misogyny or sexism on personal or systemic levels — but then disregard, insult or exploit women of color herself. There have been widely discussed critical responses to her music, especially her videos, and many of her speeches and actions (or more pointedly, her overwhelming inaction, at least until this big statement on Instagram). When called out, she gets really self-righteous and is either angry, teary, or defiant. It’s not cute. With this post, I’m trying to acknowledge that this public figure for one may have flaws/past mistakes but she’s definitely doing good here, but contextualizing that it’s a step forward for her.

Back to White Feminism broadly: More pervasively, and an issue that applies to more common people, 2nd and even 3rd wave feminist complaints about “discrimination in the workplace” center on details of office work and the corporate ladder but completely ignore the fact that women of color have always had to work outside their own homes, usually under poor conditions, for subsistence, and their hard labor usually directly benefits white women seeking proportionally larger financial gains.

It’s very hard for those of us who feel we’re working for justice to realize we also participate in oppression, both passively and actively, even when we’re not meaning to, and it’s a lot of work to unfuck ourselves. But the culture has put a zap on us all and each of us has to recognize and correct it first in ourselves and then in others.

The opposite of “White Feminism” is “intersectional feminism” because it’s more encompassing and intentional.

If anyone wants to read more, I like these pieces:

Many Black women have rejected the label “feminist” because of the problems I outlined above and prefer “womanist” coined by Alice Walker. I’ll let them speak for themselves on why:

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Lost & Found — NYC style

Another “I don’t need this kind of excitement” slice of NYC life story!

Tonight I was delighted to meet up with Gordon W before his gig at Mona’s. I’ve had a rather intense workday and the thought of having a vivacious lil’ chat and then *maybe* catching the start of the world-famous weekly hot jazz jam was a welcome tonic.

After Gordon fuels up at Veselka on 9th/2nd, he wants a coffee, but he has these *standards* and thus the nearest drinkable java is at Think Coffee, a 10-minute walk away at 2nd/Bowery… the opposite direction from Mona’s, at 13th/B.

Sidenote: My delicate, narrow, newish Victorian-y boots and I made a deal this morning that if I wouldn’t walk around too much, they would not penalize me too heavily. I had already failed to live up to my end of the bargain through the day, and so now my feet are starting to complain. But I agree to go with him for the coffee — how many more warm nights do I have left this year to enjoy a stroll through the East Village?
And then he says we could just take a car up to the bar after Think, so I am like, “OK, fine. But here, please hold my computer bag and slow down, because if we’re going for your coffee, why should I schlep and go so fast?” 🙂

As we’re on our way, the skies decide to open. We run to the nearest bodega with a generous awning. He already has a cheap umbrella, but I don’t even have that. I’m unusually unprepared with no protection and rather inappropriate footwear. I ask if we could wait out the squall. But 10 minutes later, I realize that “regular” rain is the best I was going to get, buy a bodega special umbrella for five bucks and we head back out through the rain for that darn coffee, which srsly had damn well better be AMAZING.

Find the spot, get the magic jazz juice, and finish our convo. I opt out of riding up to Mona’s, figuring I’ll just hang out at Think until the rain eases up a bit more and take a Lyft share home. Sorry to miss music, but enough already. We say our goodbyes, etc.
A few minutes later, I go to gather my bags and call the car and WHERE IS MY COMPUTER?!? oh nooooooooo…. Panicking a little …. maybe Gordon still has it? Call Gordon. Gordon says NO. Now I’m panicking A LOT.

In a quick volley, we figure out that we put it down at the bodega and neither of us picked it up again. This means that a company-issued Mac Pro laptop, in what’s quite obviously a computer bag, has maybe just been sitting outside the doorway of a bodega, out of the rain but unattended and in plain sight, for over half an hour. This is potentially pretty bad.

But where even to go look?!? Second Avenue and… ??? I can’t remember what cross street the store is on because Gordon was navigating as we walked. He says he will go look for it, and I say I’m going to hail a cab and come to 2nd and try to find the store by sight.

I run outside, across the major avenue of the Bowery, still raining, lousy umbrella doing a lousy job, and very assertively hail a cab. I tell the cabbie we have to get over to 2nd but I’m not sure where, so just go up Bowery a few blocks and we’ll come back down 2nd. While in the car, I get a photo text from Gordon: A PHOTO OF BODEGA MAN HOLDING THE COMPUTER BAG…. YAAAAAAAYYYYYY!!!!!!

I get to the right corner and see the store and tell the cabbie to wait while I go grab it. I leave my phone as collateral and hope he’s not interested in reselling my mediocre Samsung. I *RUN* through the rain to the bodega where the nice man greets me by name and hands me the computer. Hooray nice honest bodega man!! I think he might have said something about us being dumb to leave it but I couldn’t quite hear it over the sound of my babbling thanks and then running back out into the rain and jumping back in the cab. Waves of relief as I call Gordon to confirm that it’s back in my shaky hands. He asks where we are, because HIS cabbie ditched him or something? and he’s out in the rain at the corner of 1st and 7th, so I tell the driver we’re going to go get him and drive him up to Mona’s, and that yes, I’m paying for all these legs so just keep the meter going.

We pick up Gordon on the corner and keep it moving. He says the bodega man was cool and he left the machine there because he trusted him and hoped I wasn’t mad about that and apologized for leaving it in the first place. But of course I’m not mad because all I care about is that it’s found. And I myself might have been the one who didn’t pick it up when we left and I appreciated him making the effort to go back to the store and seriously I’m just glad for a happy ending which is absolutely all that counts. Yay friends. Also the cabbie told Gordon I was “like a gangster” standing in the middle of the street telling him to stop. *hahaha*

So Gordon gets out at Mona’s and for just a minute I consider going in for one drink and maybe some awesome music with awesome people … and then I tell the cabbie to take me home.

Because maybe I am slightly adventurous, y’all, but I am not a risk-taker nor gambler: When the universe cuts me a break of blatant pure luck I don’t especially deserve, I take the hint and call it a night. …. I tell ya, if I’d gone in that bar and some poor soul spilled a beer on that computer, I’d have lost ALL my chill.

Also, I’m wet, I have to manage two bags and a cheap umbrella, and now my feet hurt.
But I get home in one piece with all my belongings and happily pay that damn fare. The price may be a little high, but the value is far higher. I’mma sleep solidly tonight… well, maybe once my heartrate finally gets back to normal. 😉

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GoFundMe? GoFuckYou — Kavanaugh vs Ford edition

Did all of you see there was really a real GoFundMe fundraiser for affluenza monster Brett Kavanaugh? Probably more than one, honestly, but I haven’t the stomach to search. I noticed this one, which started and concluded in the week before his confirmation. I wrote this rant the sixth day it was open and amounts were rising at a truly blistering pace, and while comments were visible (eventually turned off once “the libs” found out and started sharing their thoughts on the whole effort).

In my opinion, this really real GoFundMe is being powered by people who are:
Really ignorant.
Really tribal.
Really obsessed with supporting the ruling class, even at their own expense (literally in this case), while they unapologetically loathe and disparage absolutely anyone else. Some of these social injustice warriors are bragging about how they are making repeat donations because it makes libs mad — HOW DOES THAT MAKE ANY SENSE?? — while sneering at the idea of donating to any actual charity. Donations are pouring in to something that could verrrry easily be 100% scam.

It’s also a really unvarnished and unfiltered view of his blind supporters. (The Kavanaughs and the GOP have nothing to do with this. It’s all grassroots by one guy, which is already fishy AF.) If you’re interested, read the campaign updates and comments. If you’d rather not, I definitely get that.

It’s really astonishing.

Something I’ve been sitting on awhile is this thought, which this whole fundraiser corroborates:

The theory is that Kav has become a symbol for both sides. Symbolizing essentially the same thing, being protected by one side and attacked by the other: the long-established kyriarchy that upholds the “natural” supremacy of wealthy white cishet Christian men.
Seriously, there is no reasonable justification for why the GOP hasn’t dropped this guy like a bag of dogshit. The very next guy on the Federalist list would surely do almost everything Kav could/would — possibly excepting the no-Presidential-indictment bit and even that, probably.

But they have dug their heels deep the fuck in on this guy because it’s the very essential GOD-GIVEN AMERICAN RIGHTS that are on trial by now and if they ditch him, they admit that the reign is over.

The guys in charge right now deeply believe in zero-sum game. Fuck Jesus — that’s their God. If they compromise an inch, it’s the same as losing. So they refuse. And we get this bullshit.

For the supporters like those, who directly benefit from this hierarchy, buy-in is easy to understand (not to like, or accept, but certainly easy to understand). But why would anyone else (women, immigrants, people of color, queerfolk) carry water for this guy? Because it’s comfortable? It’s consistent? Because they think they have figured out a way to thrive in the world as it is and better the devil you know? Or because they are tired, and fighting against the current is exhausting? I don’t know. They must have reasons I can’t fathom.

But whooooo, the idea of throwing any money, let alone $500K at a truly blistering rate, toward Kav’s family right now in some kind of pity party for this man who’s not even on criminal trial and — no matter what happens with the Supreme Court — still has a lifetime appointment at a mandated $220,000 salary?

Really boggles the mind.

Epilogue 1: The campaign closed at over $611,000 donated by more than 13,000 individual donors, and the owner is sitting on this ridiculous pile, ostensibly to hand over to the man who suffered no consequences, only a little embarrassment, instead of refunding the donors. That seems about right for morally bankrupt kleptocrats.

Epilogue 2:

In the interest of fairness, which obviously this particular post as originally written was not overly concerned with: Dr. Blasey Ford also received about the same amount from about the same number of donors in another GoFundMe campaign, also now closed. She responded directly to supporters in thanks. Another campaign raised about a third as much as well, but doesn’t have a note from Dr. Ford.

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