5 Things

I question the value of saying anything on social media, a cacophony of shouts in itself. I see so much that enrages me, amuses me, breaks my heart, and inspires me. I doubt the value of engaging with any of it. When I have the urge to speak, I wonder what unheard voice I help crowd out.

So for now, I’ll just do this.  These are 5 things this week that occupied my mind, and to which I wish everyone would pay attention.

  1.  Just when I think we could not be any more off the rails as a society, the federal government is sending federal agents into cities it deems not brutal enough on their own to snuff out protesters.  Among them is Chicago, which pays annually about $100 million in policy brutality case settlements each year.  Despite experts and research all over the country demonstrating that butality is not the way, we are about to have multiple brutal and uncoordinated factions in one city.  The Department of Homeland Security “was not established to be the president’s personal militia.”
  2.  I’ve seen plenty of subtle sexism in my career, but in 2014 I had a manager go off complaining about how awful it is to have to work with women.  As he tried to clean up his outburst the next day, his non-apology included “I’m not sexist.  I mean, I married.”  If for no other reason, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s speech last week resonated with many of us because we are so tired of this bullshit defense.  She nailed it.  If, as NYTimes journalists claimed, this is simply AOC “amplifying her brand,” then sign me up for #fuckingbitchsquad.
  3. And as you carry your weariness from tired narratives about and toward women, this short bit by Katherine Ryan is gold.  CW: it’s also filled with profanity.
  4. There are too many lovely memorials to the great John Lewis I cannot pick just one, but in doing so Fresh Air also included an old interview of civil rights attorney J. L. Chestnut, whose largest focus was on changing laws that interfered with black people’s access to their natural rights as citizens.  It’s inspiring and worth a listen.  The high arc of our moral failings against people of color is so recent, and the laws on our books matter.
  5. Heaviest on my heart and mind this week, I just finished Waiting for an Echo by Dr. Christine Montross, a psychiatrist who has worked both in prison and psychiatric hospital settings, and describes the patients at each as “virtually indistinguishable.”  While there is plenty of evidence that our carceral system is a trauma farm, and failing at its stated purpose of ensuring a safe and just society, this is a compelling new piece of work.   We as a country are committing the very crimes against the incarcerated that we claim the system protects the rest of us from, and we are doing it to some of our most vulnerable members.