May 4 2017

My mother is visiting today. She’s in town for K’s circus show, and I’m picking her up at the airport in an hour.

The House votes on the AHCA today. If it passes, this version of the bill will strip away the ability to pay for healthcare from nearly the entire U.S. population. Except Congress. They have an exemption.

My family is going to see K’s circus show tonight. It sounds like it will be fantastic, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Trump is planning an executive order today expanding the rights of religious institutions to oppress people they don’t like. Depending on the exact language, this could be utterly catastrophic.

We think we may have found a home for our foster puppy, pending a home visit tomorrow.

Carrie Fisher is still dead. I still mourn her loss.

I got my medical clearance to work back, so I resume air traffic control duties tomorrow.

I’ve helped two crowdfunding efforts to pay for funerals in the last week.

Our pet hedgehog, Norman, let me hold him last night.

Vibrant investigative journalism

I am really enjoying the state of journalism these days.

I expect many of you have heard of Serial. I love the time and attention given to each season-long story. There’s room for multiple viewpoints, room for nuance.

Similarly, I was enrapt by Into the Dark, an investigation into the *investigation* of the Jacob Wetterling case.

I also enjoy Crimetown, a look at the mob town of Providence, RI.

I support Unicorn Riot, a decentralized non-hierarchical media collective. If you ever in your life wanted to be Edison Carter or Theora Jones, fighting Network 23, you want to help out Unicorn Riot. Live and direct, indeed.

I also read and support the BBC, NY Times, Washington Post, and Mother Jones. But I really notice, like, and support the podcasts and smaller journalism outlets. It seems to be a good era for independent investigative efforts.

There’s certainly a lot to investigate.

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International Workers’ Day

Tomorrow is International Workers’ Day. I will be at work, my federal job, at which I am prohibited from making partisan political remarks.

I, personally, do not believe that supporting workers’ rights ought to be a partisan issue. But it is.

So I am posting this a day early.

America Needs a $15/hour Minimum Wage

Workers need the Affordable Care Act

Workers need a functional OSHA.

Workers need a real EPA.

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I understand that there are a host of marches, protests, rallies, and actions available across the country tomorrow. Go ye forth, you workers of the world.

Arise, ye prisoners of starvation!
Fight for your own emancipation;
Arise, ye slaves of every nation.
In One Union grand.
Our little ones for bread are crying
And millions are from hunger dying;
The end the means is justifying,
‘Tis the final stand.

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What have I done to resist: 100 days

The chaos does not stop coming. It is very, very hard to stay engaged and caring.

However.

When this is all over, I want to be able to meet people’s eyes without shame. I want to be able to say I did not go quietly.

So here’s what I’ve done so far.

– still giving money. This is the big one for me. I support national and local nonprofits, resistance, support, the arts, all sorts of things. I give to a number of Patreons, helping artists and creators. I give to GoFundMes and Kickstarters. I pay for things where and when I can.
– calling my MoCs. Now, since mine are pretty liberal, mostly I’m just calling to say thank you. Sometimes I castigate Klobuchar, but not even that much there.
– calling and writing local government. I am learning a lot more about local issues – state, city, and neighborhood – and I am contacting those people more.
– donating material goods. We found out this last month that our neighborhood has a wet-house, a place where chronic and untreatable alcoholics can live with dignity. We donated a bunch to them, and well as to Goodwill.
– in the last month, I haven’t marched or gone to any meetings. But there’s always more coming up.
– I am speaking out against abuse, harassment, and poor behavior in my communities of interest. Fandom, SF/F, comics, etc. I am … I am done, entirely, with cultures of silence and indirect management.

What has happened in government in the last few weeks? It’s almost impossible to keep up. The EPA has removed the webpage on climate change. Sean Spicer spoke approvingly of Hitler. North Korea is relentlessly testing missiles, and 45 may or may not be sending naval groups to engage. 45 bombed the shit out of a location in Syria. The White House is promoting 45’s businesses. The Kids are now illegal ambassadors for the U.S. The AHCA is being voted on again.

This is a long, long haul. I’m here. So are you. We’ll get through this together.

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A few preliminary thoughts on The Handmaid’s Tale series (no spoilers)

This is a show speaking to white people. Specifically, to white women.

As a feminist white woman from a middle-class professional background and currently occupying a comfortable middle-class professional life, I *AM* the target audience. I am thoroughly pleased with the show.

If you are from a different culture, you will Have Questions. Namely, “what happened to MY people because we sure as hell would not be putting up with this bullshit?!?!”

That is a real concern. I am pretty sure your questions are not going to be answered.

But if you *are* a middle-class cis white feminist, this is about you. About us.

It’s about how we often are shocked that Bad Things can happen to us. About how we don’t see or believe that the experiences of women of color, trans women, women in prison, women in poverty. About how we don’t network with allies until it’s too late. About how on some level we think we will come through just fine. It’s about how all that gets stripped away.

Ymmv, of course.

But what I, personally, am getting from the show is a renewal of the energy and anger I had in November. The anger that comes from a weird combination of fear over what I can lose, and fuck-it-all-let’s-do-this.

Fellow white feminists: please, please. Remember your allies. Don’t abandon people with different needs and causes than yours. Work for immigration reform. Work for judicial reform. Work for worker’s rights.

We are going to need *everyone* to stop what’s coming.

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Sometimes, the meme is not about you. Sometimes it is.

I saw a bunch of tweets and such going about the internets this week, talking about the Civil War and the Confederacy. One sentiment I saw was “The Civil War wasn’t about slaves, it was about money.” Another I saw was “It’s about slavery when you are the currency.”

I was reminded of how I, a white Northerner, learned about the Civil War.

– As a child, I was taught that the Civil War was fought to free the slaves. I was taught that the good Northern people invaded the South for the rights of the slaves. To free them from evil, wicked Southerners. (Note, that in this narrative, the slaves *still* aren’t people. “Southerner” is specifically defined to mean “white Southerner.” And to be Southern is to be wicked. And to be a slave is to be agency-less.)

– As a teenager I was shocked to learn that the Northerners had not, in fact, really wanted to free the slaves. That the war was fought for the selfish money-grubbing reason of national economics. That the only people who thought the war was about slavery were in the South.

– In college I learned about state’s rights. I learned about the history of the struggle between our state and national governments. I learned about abolitionists. I learned about free blacks. I learned about the social and economic strictures on impoverished white Southerners. I learned how the North benefited enormously from slavery, and had no real monetary reason to bring a halt to Southern economics.

In short, I learned it was complicated.

When I saw the tweets going by this week, I agreed with all of them. But I feel that they are not in conversation with each other. They are talking across each other to different audiences, to people who need to hear different things.

There are some [Northern white] people who still think that the North rode into the South full of a burning passion to right the wrongs of slavery and free all African-Americans. Those people need to hear, “it wasn’t about [a fight against] slavery, it was about money [that the North benefited from].” They need to learn that it was not a crusade for justice, but a war to keep the Southern economy part of the Union.

There are some [white] people who think that the Civil War was about state’s rights [and not about slavery at all, please ignore the enslaved]. Those people need to hear that the Southern economy was made of the blood and bodies of black people, and that it was definitely about slavery.

We all need to keep learning more, keep hearing more. We all need to listen to the voices of people not like us. We need to learn, to keep learning, to incorporate different views into our understanding of a complex world. *I* need to keep listening, to keep learning.

As an adult, I have learned more about the lives of free blacks. I’ve learned more about the lives of slaves in the south. I’ve learned how revered white leaders of the United States owned and abused slaves.

There’s always more to learn. Humans are complicated. And, sometimes, the things you need to hear are different from what someone else needs to hear. That other person still can benefit from a thing you already know. And you can benefit from a thing they already know.

Sometimes, the meme isn’t about you. Sometimes it is.

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I’ve been an ass about suburban development, I apologize

I have held very strong views, for decades now, about the damage suburbs, particularly exurbs, do to human communities. These views are largely based on books I read in the mid-90s, Suburban Nation and Metropolitics.

Recently I’ve been reading articles in various news outlets discussing the collapse of the service economy and how this is harming people who live in suburbs. I’ve been publicly pleased about the suburban collapse, and I’ve been an ass to friends over this. (My apologies, again, you know who you are.)

The thing is, it’s been two decades since I formed those anti-suburban views. I believe they were valid at the time, and I still hold to some tenants of urban development I learned then.

But real people live in suburban spaces. Actual humans, with families, with goals, with hopes and struggles. And I’ve been ignoring that. I’ve even, if I’m being honest with myself, sometimes mentally blamed people in exurbs for choosing their situation.

This is a dick move. I shouldn’t do it. I’m sorry.

Moreover, it’s been two decades. The more I read in articles and think-pieces, the more I am coming to understand that my comprehension of community life in suburbs is, frankly, wrong. I read portions of the Twin Cities Housing report last month (I didn’t finish, but I read a great deal) and my internal view of the Twin Cities is woefully out of date. I need to learn more, to change my thinking, before I contribute to the public conversation.

I’m going to try to do that. I care, passionately, about urban and community development. But I need to listen a lot more before I voice my views.

So, again, I’m sorry I was an ass. I’ll try to do better in the future.

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