Recent Must Reads: A Weekly Roundup

I’ve known since I was 12 that I did not want to have children. I’d already had a brother drown at the age of 9, and I’d been molested several times before I turned 13. I became hardwired to believe that parents can’t keep their children safe. I didn’t want to have children if I couldn’t properly protect them. Except for my mother referring to me as a spinster once when I was in my 40’s, I don’t recall any verbal backlash about my choices to stay single and child-free. I don’t remember family and extended family repeatedly asking me when I was going to bear children. None of my friends burdened me with the question. The only instance I can ever recall was when I lived in Espanola, NM in the 90’s. I was the only white member of the wait staff at a BBQ restaurant in town. I was 31 years old. My co-workers were young women, 18-21, of Hispanic and Native American descent who each had a child and each was appalled and shocked that I was in my 30s and had no children. Culturally, I was a bizarre enigma that they didn’t understand.

A few years ago, without consciously intending to, I was made aware that I had projected this same presumption onto my oldest niece. Grief-blind at the death of a second brother, feeling the burden of intensifying losses, I blurted to my niece, “Erin, it’s up to you now.” Our family was dwindling; I wanted it to increase. I could no longer have children, my other 2 nieces were under the age of 10, so instantly, instinctively, I thought, Ah, niece of childbearing age, deliver me from diminishing returns!

To her credit, Erin didn’t automatically react outwardly to my declaration. And it wasn’t until she mentioned this a couple years ago, that I recognized the pressure I had added to her experience of being child-free in childbearing years. What we say to others matters. What to me may have been a flip statement, a desire I verbalized without thinking of its impact, had negative repercussions on someone I love. Someone I care deeply about was further burdened by my casual statement.

In her article published at LitHub this week, R.O. Kwon discusses the emotional strain family members place on her regarding her choice to be child-free. Instead of “causing trouble” she smiles or says she “probably won’t” have kids, anything to soften the blow and end the uncomfortable conversation. It’s imperative that we become aware of the impact of our statements on others: regarding every type of life choice, regardless of our beliefs and hopes. It’s critical that we become mindful of the cause and effect cycle of our discourse. What matters most is the necessity to respect others’ bodies, ideas, decisions, and preferences. That’s what allows for a diverse world. Please take a look at Kwon’s article for more on this subject, as well as Ali Owens’ piece on rape culture. They both provide thought provoking material for becoming more linguistically conscious. In addition, Rebecca Chamaa’s article on Scaramucci’s reference to “schizophrenic paranoia” highlights another aspect of the ramifications of using such phrases in a derogatory manner.

Other stories this week focus on the NAACP’s warning of traveling as a minority in Missouri; a return to Jim Crow Laws; the values of white supremacy that are being used to thwart Affirmative Action; and the necessity of including abortion in our discussion of Health Care Policy and Democratic Party values. Issues of Transgender discrimination, EPA laws being circumvented for Trump’s border wall, and a discussion of what is/is not considered “patriotic” are also included in this week’s Roundup.

So, for these stories and more, Please Read On!! Your comments are always welcome!


  1. “How do you come to Missouri, run out of gas and find yourself dead in a jail cell when you haven’t broken any laws?” asked Rod Chapel, the president of the Missouri NAACP.
“NAACP Issues First-ever Travel Advisory for a State: Missouri”/ by Ian Cummings/ Chicago Tribune/ August 2, 2017

 


2. My theory is that the reason the Justice Department is going at this from the civil rights angle, and the reason it is attacking colleges and universities with affirmative action policies first, is that this is the low-hanging fruit that will lead to the ultimate victory: wiping out affirmative action in all aspects of American life, including employment.
“Are We Returning to Jim Crow”/ by Monique Judge/ The Root/ August 2, 2017

 


3. If the Democratic Party is truly going to make the health care fight one of the defining issues of the 2018 and 2020 election cycles, then we have to finally agree that abortion is itself a health care issue. To deny someone the ability to end an unwanted-to-nonviable pregnancy safely is to force that person to put their physical health in jeopardy, either by seeking out a less safe option for termination or by putting their body through the physical risks and potentially permanent health complications of bringing a pregnancy to term and delivering a baby.
“Pssst, DCCC! Abortion Is a Health Care Issue”/ by Robin Marty/ DAME/ August 1, 2017

 


4. The man who captured the beating on video told Reverend Al Sharpton that after the officer first approached her, Marlene walked away, off the highway. The officer re-engaged her and escalated the situation; the witness observed no resistance whatsoever. Once the video went viral, civil rights leaders began to speak out about Marlene’s beating, using the video to counter the officer’s justifications for the violence. “Without the video my word may have not meant anything,” Marlene said.
“Mental Illness is Not a Capital Crime”/ by Andrea J. Ritchie/ LitHub/ July 31, 2017

 


5. Until cis people — especially heteronormative men — are able to interrogate their own toxic masculinity and realize their own gender performance is literally killing trans women, cis men will continue to persecute trans women and blame them for their own deaths. If you think trans women should disclose and “be honest,” then why don’t you work on making the damn world safe for us to exist in the first place? The “I’d kill a woman if I found out” rhetoric is precisely why so many women hold themselves so tight — the stigma and shame attached to our desires need to be abolished.
“Dear Men of “The Breakfast Club”: Trans Women Aren’t a Prop, Ploy, or Sexual Predators”/ by Janet Mock/ Allure/ July 31, 2017

 


6. The article in The New Yorker is full of “paranoia,” but that is displayed in all the comments made by Scaramucci about “leaks,” “leakers,” and people “c*ck blocking” him from what he assumes is his rightful place in the White House. Since there is no mention of anything resembling paranoia on the part of Priebus, I can only assume that Scaramucci couldn’t think of anything worse to call his adversary and that he was referring to his character and not his thoughts. Both of these things, if true, are stigmatizing and work to unravel the gains those of us who advocate for the mentally ill have made in the last few years.
“Why Anthony Scaramucci’s Paranoid Schizophrenia Insult Was Offensive”/ by Rebecca Chamaa/ Teen Vogue/ July 30, 2017

 


7. That’s not to say that the policy doesn’t have its origins in Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s sincerely felt belief that white folks can’t catch a break in America. I’m sure it does. But it’s also part of a long and extraordinarily successful Republican project to convince white voters that minorities in general and African Americans in particular enjoy a panoply of free benefits from the government that make their lives comfortable and easy. It’s a lie, but it’s extraordinarily widespread.
“The Trump Administration Takes up the Cause of Oppressed White People”/ by Paul Waldman/ Washington Post/ August 2, 2017

 


8. As a Filipino-American, I cannot explain the plight against my immigrant community without acknowledging the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Alien Land Law, the internment of Japanese-Americans, and anti-miscegenation laws. There is a direct thread linking this nation’s abysmal history on race and its oblique deflections regarding critiques on it, to the continued proliferation of white supremacist activity today. Love of country, for people of color, has always meant acknowledging the sins of America.
“Your Patriotism Isn’t Love, It’s Blindness”/ by Abraham A. Joven/ The Rumpus/ July 31, 2017

 


9. This issue is especially meaningful for me because I am a fully enrolled member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, where my mother’s family has lived since Indian Removal from Florida in the 19th century. I now live in Manhattan and I am also African-American. I am not alone: More than three-fourths of Native Americans live outside tribal areas, and almost half are multiracial. This is what authenticity looks like.
“What’s So Hard About Casting Indian Actors in Indian Roles?”/ by Kevin Noble Maillard/ New York Times/August 1, 2017

 


10. The Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday it would waive 37 environmental laws and regulations to build prototypes of President Donald Trump’s planned border wall and replace existing border infrastructure along a 15-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexico boundary near San Diego.
“Trump Waives Environmental Laws to Speed Border Wall Construction”/ by Alex Devoid/ AZCentral/ August 2, 2017

 


11. Until not long ago, I joked that when I smile at men who tell me what I want, I like to pretend I’m holding a knife with my teeth. It’s how I put up with, for instance, the relative who asks, minutes after I’ve arrived at my aunt’s house, when I plan to start having children. “Oh, not anytime soon,” I lie. In truth, I have no such plans. But I’ve talked to this relative five times in the last decade; if I walked past him on a sidewalk, he might not recognize me. He’s balancing his newborn in his lap. I’m being polite.
“Finding Solace In the Words Of Furious Women Or, How To Smile at Men Who Tell You What You Want”/ by R.O. Kwon/ LitHub/ August 2, 2017

 


12. Most of us figure out from a very young age that we are walking a fine line, balancing a tightrope of accountability and blame. No matter what we do, no matter how we act or what we say, we face the very real threat of sexual assault ― and the fact of the matter is that there are very few situations in which we will be considered 100 percent victim, as opposed to part victim, part conniving temptress who had it coming.

“Tell Me There’s No Rape Culture”/ by Ali Owens/ Huffington Post/ October 14, 2016

 


Joyce Hayden left her university teaching job two years ago in order to pursue her own artistic work. An assemblage artist, painter, and writer, Joyce is currently in the process of acquiring an agent to represent her memoir, The Out of Body Girl, which describes her 8 year relationship with a charismatic gambler and the dangerous road that eventually led to her freedom. Her chapbook of poems, Lost Handprint, is forthcoming from Dandelion Review. A freelance editor and writing coach, Joyce’s writing services and a selection of her artwork can be found at her website joycehayden.com. Joyce is available for commission art work, including celebration shrines for loved ones and pets.

 

 

 

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