Category Archives: MURICA

Just another day in the neighborhood

I haven’t posted here in a while, mainly because I’ve been focusing my writing energies on finishing and editing a novel (ugh it is HARD, WHY IS WRITING HARD?), and also because, frankly, it seems like the fun, summery topics I would have liked to feature were all trivial in the grand scheme of the seemingly endless American and global tragedies of the last month or so, particularly the killing of yet two more black men by police last week in LA and MN, and then the massacre in Dallas. Basically, every time I thought about posting something, it seemed futile and dumb and silly. Especially this last week, when, as a white girl living in San Francisco, one of the most liberal places in the US and possibly the world, I felt like a lot of this was more removed than it would have been had I lived in, say, Mississippi or Georgia or even outside of San Francisco proper.

Today, however, a woman who lives one block away from me in the Haight neighborhood found this flier at her door around 12:30 pm (see article here; I also saw this woman’s post via NextDoor):

awful flier from 7.12
The “invisible empire” – how chilling is that?

Based on the rather sad grammar and composition of the flier and the original post from my neighbor, I’m pretty sure it’s genuine, which means that someone or some persons are undertaking to recruit, albeit rather pathetically, for the KKK–on Haight Street, of all places, which is hippie central if you ever saw it. Of course, the likelihood of this person(s) having any success in gaining converts is pretty freakin’ low, given the population here, which, while overwhelmingly white, is also overwhelmingly socially liberal (it’s not uncommon to see #BlackLivesMatter posters and shirts on black AND white people’s homes and bodies around here). Obviously, the entire area is openly disgusted with this flier, regardless of whether it is truly authentic or a bad, sick joke.

That being said, seeing this prompted two very different emotional reactions, the second of which generated this lovely post you’re reading now:

Initial Reaction: This is happening here? How dare they? It’s awful to think that there is someone who, if not living in my neighborhood, is spending time here in order to spread a message of hate and racism and try to recruit my neighbors into what is basically America’s #1 Lynching and Cross-Burning Club. My neighborhood, in my adopted city–how dare this monster, whoever he or she is, come into MY street and spew this shit! I was really riled up.

Secondary Reaction: Oh my God, I have so much privilege. Once this news started spreading via social media, I spoke about it with a black friend who also lives in the Haight, and has lived here longer than I have. I was bowled over when I heard this friend’s initial reaction, which was not one of disgust, as mine was, but of fear for their physical safety. This person takes a bus to work which drops off, sometimes late at night, a couple blocks from where this flier was found. Unlike me, their first thought was not, “What an asshole racist; I can’t believe someone would do this!” Their first thought was, “There’s possibly an asshole racist loitering nearby; what if they get violent?”

That’s the question we never really have to ask ourselves when it comes to racists, isn’t it, fellow white people?

What if they get violent? 

I saw the picture of that flier and became angry because I couldn’t believe this was happening in my neighborhood.

My black friend saw the picture of that flier and became frightened because they didn’t feel physically safe in their neighborhood.

 

 

What a giant reminder of my own privilege, huh?

So why am I writing this? I guess to offer another rebuttal to the “All Lives Matter” crowd in general, who are super loud right now: to at least to one dick racist KKK member in the Haight, all lives definitely don’t matter. But I also write to remind myself and any other white people living in so-called liberal enclaves that our homes are not exempt from the reality of racism and violence. We need to speak out and be strong, vigilant allies to our non-white neighbors and friends and family members. The site of the Summer of Love, with its graffiti murals and overpriced vegan burgers, can be just as dangerous a place for a non-white person as Ferguson, Missouri. We can’t get complacent. We can’t sit on our asses. The system is set up to benefit us, to keep us safe, no matter where we are–and that means it’s our responsibility to change that system so it keeps EVERYONE safe. We can’t ever forget that responsibility, vegan burgers or no.

#BlackLivesMatter

If you can, consider donating to the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund– you can donate to support police reform in particular.

The millennial’s guide for how to vote for the “right” candidate in the primaries

Libya_Clinton_Visit_041dbbernie

Primary season is upon us! If you’re lucky and not being voter suppressed and are able to get away from work/childcare/other life duties and actually vote in your state’s upcoming primary or caucus, you have an important decision to make: who will you support for your party’s nomination for President? I know it can be daunting, especially for millennials who don’t have decades of experience in becoming apathetic and exhausted by our disastrous political system voting. Fear not, fellow twenty-and thirty-somethings! I have put together the following guide to help you exercise your most cherished democratic right and duty.

Step 1: Ensure you can properly name and stereotype each candidate. For Democrats, this is easy! You only have Crazy Socialist Old Jewish Dude and Feminazi Wall Street Lover Vagina-haver to choose from (Mr. Pleasant-faced Generic White Guy already peaced out; RIP Pleasant-faced Generic White Guy!). For Republicans, you’ve got Crazy Billionaire Who Wants to Bang His Daughter, the Guy Who Doesn’t Know How Hoodies Work, the Sleepy Surgeon, the…oh, who am I kidding. If you’re a millennial you’re probably not voting Republican. If you are, I wish you well–may the powers that be help you in choosing a candidate from among these clowns!

Step 2: Do your research. Remember, there’s a lot of misinformation out there, so you have to dig deep to make sure you’re getting the real scoop on what issues each candidate will prioritize once in office. Examine their voting records in Congress, read their books and writings (going back to college and graduate school, if possible), watch their public addresses and speeches on YouTube, read the endorsements of various newspapers and organizations…

Step 3: …Shit. That’s A LOT more work than you thought. Both of these assholes have, like, decades of service under their belts, and they’ve both done good and bad things during that time! I mean, obviously income inequality is a big issue, but so is gun control…I guess they both support reproductive rights, but Hillary got Planned Parenthood’s endorsement, but Killer Mike likes Bernie, and…wow, this was a lot easier four years ago when there just wasn’t a democratic primary and you hated Romney a lot.

Step 4: Don’t panic and read Facebook. Luckily for you, most of your Facebook friends are politically-minded! They’re sharing really interesting pieces from writers big and small on your feed, from all perspectives: the LGBTQ community, feminists, activists of color, political giants, foreign policy specialists, small business owners, you name it. Dive in, and prepare yourself to be informed up the WAZOO! Your choice will be easy as pie once you take in this information.

Step 5: Wow there is some SERIOUS shit going down here on Facebook. Huh. You’ve only clicked on one article your friend from college posted and people are having some REAL STRONG REACTIONS in the comments. Someone just called someone else a bitch, and that girl just said that other guy is a “berniebro,” and now everyone is talking about false narratives and apparently if you vote for Hillary it’s only because you have a vagina, but if you vote for Bernie you are betraying your vagina, and maybe our political system is now dependent on the votes of our genitalia? How would voting genitalia even work? It seems like voting machines would have to be majorly redesigned…

Step 6: Something something Supreme Court nomination. Holy shit, Scalia died! Wait, Mitch McConnell says Obama can’t nominate a successor? What is this shit? Also people are saying OBAMA should be the next justice, but like he is already President…oh, after he’s done being Prez, you mean, and either Hillary or Bernie could nominate him…but doesn’t Obama deserve a vacation from this crazy country after the past 8 years? Oh God, Scalia is dead, after all! Am I being disrespectful of the dead? This think piece says I am, but this other one says I’m not, and this one says the election is now turned on its head, and this one says the Zika virus is turning the world into Children of Men, and THIS ONE says that Bernie is actually an alien, and THIS ONE says Hillary is an Ewok, and THIS ONE says #OscarsSoWhite, and THIS ONE says…

Step 7: Descend into madness. HOW DID BOTH OF THESE CANDIDATES BECOME EVIL ALL OF A SUDDEN? WHAT THE FUCK? WAIT WAIT WAIT A COUPLE YEARS BACK EVERYONE WAS SHARING BADASS MEMES OF HILLARY ON A PLANE TEXTING BUT NOW SHE HATES BLACK PEOPLE AND LOVES BANKS? AND BERNIE IS LOVABLY GRUFF AND HATES CAPITALISM BUT DIDN’T LISTEN TO VERMONT’S BLACK LEADERS AND ALSO MAYBE LIKES GUNS? HILLARY LOVES HEALTHCARE BUT MAYBE HATES BEYONCE? WAIT, DOES BERNIE HATE BEYONCE, TOO? CAN WHITE PEOPLE LIKE BEYONCE? DO I EVEN LIKE BEYONCE? SHOULD I JUST VOTE FOR BEYONCE? AM I ALLOWED TO LIKE “FORMATION?” WHAT ABOUT KANYE, IS HE CRAZY OR WHAT?

Step 8: Cry. sobsobsobsobsobsobsobsob can’t we just have Obama for a third term?

Step 9: Have a stiff drink. God damn it, get yourself together and make a God-damned decision! YOU ARE AN ADULT YOU CAN MAKE THIS ONE CHOICE.  

Step 10: Call your most bigoted, sexist, “The Civil War was really the War of Northern Agression” relation and ask them which candidate they hate the most. Vote for that one. 

BOOM! DEMOCRACY, I OWN YOU! YOU ARE MY BITCH! HUZZAH!

You’re welcome, millennials!

 

 

 

Visualizing Utopia

I took an involuntary blogging hiatus over Thanksgiving due to the DeathColdwhich laid me out flat for a good eight days; I’m still hacking up phlegm on an hourly basis (you’re welcome for the mental image).

As a return to blogging post-DeathCold, I was going to do a beauty post with my recommendations from my latest Allure Beauty Box, but I couldn’t because my mind is still spinning from the latest high-profile incidence of domestic terrorism that took place on Black Friday at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs as well as the revelations regarding Laquan McDonald’s murder at the hands of police last year, among, as usual, other horrific things.  Hell, as I’m typing this, my Twitter feed is telling me that there is a mass shooting incident ONGOING in San Bernardino with as many as 20 injuries possibly reported (Update as I finish this article: 12 dead possibly. My God.)

I’m so, so, so tired of this. Exhausted, in fact. Aren’t we all?

I’m so tired of the culture of violence, especially against women, children, people of color, and the poor. Tired of the racism and Islamophobia. Tired of the unwillingness of so many people to see that things need to change, from rape culture to reasonable, commonsense restrictions on gun ownership and use (BTW, if you want to post a comment here on how gun violence is solely a mental illness issue vs. gun availability, please just don’t. As a mentally ill person myself, you’re not gonna convince me and I’m sure I won’t convince you. Feel free to ignore this post and go find someone else to talk to about it; the internet should have plenty of safe spaces for that. Thanks in advance.).

I feel like I do what I can, you know? A lot of you feel that way, too, I bet. We donate money to causes we believe in, support and vote for candidates to public office who we hope will be able effect positive change. And yet, it still feels like nothing gets better. Part of this, I know, is due to the fact that we have access to news of horrible events 24/7 thanks to social media. Awful things have always happened, but now we hear of them more often, with video and audio recordings of the carnage as it happens to bring the horror even closer to home.

So what do we do? What do I do, not just to make the world a better place, but to keep myself sane? Other than continue to donate money and vote and speak out where I can, I’ve had to rely more and more these days on a super-lame-sounding but effective technique to keep myself going: visualization.

About a month ago, I read the fantastic book The Feminist Utopia Project, which is a collection of about sixty stories, cartoons, interviews, fake news articles, etc. imagining a better future, courtesy of dozens of feminist thinkers in many fields. I highly recommend it, even if you’re not that big into feminism. Reading this book gave me a new tool to deal with the horror of the everyday world: visualizing utopia.

When things get awful, like they are getting right now in San Bernardino as well as in thousands of places around the world, I try to take a breath and imagine that fifty or one hundred or two hundred years from now, those who come after me (or maybe even me, if I’m lucky) will see a world that is measurably better than this one. One where the term “mass shooting” is only discussed in history class, the way we discuss the Spanish Inquisition today. A world where we take care of our planet instead of treating it like a disposable coffee cup. A world where no one’s life is better or worse than anyone else’s simply because of their gender identity, skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or where they live in on the map. A world where religion, if it exists at all, is ONLY a source of peace and inner strength for believers and a cause for generosity and love rather than an excuse for hatred. A world without violence. A world where gun control is a non-issue because no one feels like they would ever even need a gun to protect themselves. A world where a woman can go for a run in the park at 3 am with no worry for her safety. A world where no one is homeless. A world where no one is hungry. A world where fewer people are sick, and those who are receive free, top-quality care from medical personnel who are caring and well-treated themselves. A world where there are no borders, and people pass freely from one place to another, sure of hospitality and interest and love wherever they go. A world where I spend every day cuddling with doggies.*  In a word, utopia.

Today especially, we are really, really far off from that world. As it seems to do every couple of days, my heart is breaking for a new group of victims of violence as I type this. I don’t want to become desensitized to it, but I want to believe that things can be better. I want to believe in my utopia. I choose to believe in it today, and I actively wish for it. If the holiday season brings anything good with it, any sort of power, let it be the power to bring humanity closer to this utopia, or any version of it. I’m visualizing, hard. I hope you can take a moment today to visualize it, too. If enough of us do, it can only soothe our souls and bring us closer to making it a reality.

Peace. And I promise, back to beauty posts and funnier shit later this week.

*Ok, this one is a little selfish, but, come on, what is Utopia without doggies?

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Roxie would definitely be part of Utopia.

 

 

 

Politics of Petty Negativity: Oh, Jeb(!) Edition

So on Facebook this morning I posted a rant about Jeb(!) Bush(!)’s latest gaffe, in which he said, in a Town Hall on Saturday in South Carolina:

“Universities ought to have skin in the game,” the former Florida governor said at a South Carolina town hall with Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Trey Gowdy. “When a student shows up, they ought to say ‘Hey, that psych major deal, that philosophy major thing, that’s great, it’s important to have liberal arts … but realize, you’re going to be working a Chick-fil-A.'”

“The number one degree program for students in this country … is psychology,” Bush said. “I don’t think we should dictate majors. But I just don’t think people are getting jobs as psych majors. We have huge shortages of electricians, welders, plumbers, information technologists, teachers.”

There is so much to unpack here, it’s insane.

Understandably, a LOT of people were upset about this bullshit he spouted, myself included.  My initial anger was due to the insult aimed at psychology majors in particular.  I feel very strongly about this, because:

A.) I know many psych majors who have gone on to land important, wonderful, and even high-paying(!) jobs, from medicine, to HR, to clinical psychology and research, to labor work, to writing…the list goes on.  To imply that psych majors have no career options is just wrong and shows that he doesn’t know what the ever-loving fuck he’s talking about.

B.) Dismissing psychology as a valid field of study is dangerous.  People who struggle with mental illness have to overcome enough stigma and red tape to seek psychological assistance (therapy, etc.) as it is, and for a major political figure to imply that this is an unimportant area of study doesn’t help matters.

C.) On a personal note, psychology saved my life.  My therapist (who, yeah, has a job!  It’s therapy! He gets paid and everything!), one of those lowly psych majors, helped me out of a major depression and suicidal episode earlier this year and continues to help me.  His is an essential profession, so to hear a major candidate say something that might dissuade others with an interest from pursuing it…well, it rubs me the wrong way.

As I re-read Jeb(!)’s comments in a later moment of relative calmness, however, I was struck by something – I agree with one of the statements he made!  I KNOW, RIGHT?  I’m all #FEELTHEBERN and #HILLARYROCKS and #OMALLEY…EXISTS but I agreed with a statement Jeb(!) Bush, of the Bushy McBushes, made.  Here it is:

“We have huge shortages of electricians, welders, plumbers, information technologists, teachers.” (implying, of course, that students should pursue these fields)

Jeb(!) is right!  There are millions of jobs opening up in the trades!  These jobs can be well-paying and are essential to the American economy and our everyday lives!  People should consider these jobs!

We also have a teacher shortage!  Teachers play an essential role in American life and the economy!  More people should be teachers!

SO WHY NOT JUST SAY THAT?*  THAT IS A GOOD THING!  JUST SAY THAT!  COME ON!

GOB COME ON

Why, Jeb(!) do you have to insult psychology majors (and, for that matter, philosophy and other liberal arts majors) to make that point?

Why, Jeb(!), do you have to insult the dignity of food service workers (he makes working at Chick-Fil-A sound like the worst possible fate a human being could have**) to make that point?

If you are trying to encourage young people to follow certain career paths, Jeb(!), why not just extoll the benefits of those paths instead of insulting others?  Why engage in negativity when positivity will get the same point across?

The answer to this for Jeb(!) personally is, I’m sure, complicated, and, ironically, would necessitate an in-depth examination of his psyche and how his upbringing in a rich, entitled family which has already produced two US Presidents affects his worldview.  But in general, I believe that Jeb(!) and other politicians engage in negativity politics because they believe it wins elections, and it’s become their default setting, even when trying to make a simple point encouraging young people to study the trades at a town hall.  Get that insult in, these politician’s aides constantly say to them in greenrooms and hotel suites and on tour buses, and people will start paying attention!  That’s what will get you the votes!

The good news for normal people is this hasn’t held true for the last two US presidential elections.  Say what you will about Obama, but he didn’t win in ’08 by denigrating college students and women and fast food workers – he won because his primary message was one of hope (again, whether or not you agree he has delivered on that is an entirely different post).  And in 2012, Romney guaranteed his loss the minute he called 47% of the country moochers.  The lesson? LOOKING DOWN ON REGULAR PEOPLE DOES NOT WIN NATIONAL ELECTIONS ANYMORE, GUYS!  WE HAVE TWITTER NOW!  WE WATCH JOHN OLIVER! WE WILL KNOW IF YOU SAY MEXICANS ARE RAPISTS, AND EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE LOTS OF RACISTS IN THE US THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH OF THEM TO KEEP YOU AT THE TOP OF THE POLLS!

I would love to see a day when politics (on both sides of the aisle, the GOP is not alone in this) leaves petty negativity entirely behind.  We’re not there yet, and who knows if we ever will be, but I do know that, after some blinding rage this morning, I’m feeling a little more mellow and sympathetic towards Jeb(!), who just doesn’t get that his politics of negativity is only going to bite him in the ass!  He’s so oblivious, it’s almost sad.

If only he’d taken a psychology course, you know? 😉

*To be fair, the reason he won’t say that is because he actually has no actual interest in helping anyone get any job through educational assistance and training in the trades or any other field.  He’s not been super great for education or teachers.  He mostly doesn’t care.

**Of course, no one, including Jeb(!), would feel like they could insult food service workers if they were paid a living minimum wage, but Jeb(!) would prefer to eliminate the federal minimum wage altogether, so…yeah.