Recent Must Reads: A Weekly Roundup

For the past few years, I have traveled parts of the country visiting friends and researching areas I might like to live. (Yes, I acknowledge the privilege of these options.) I maintain my legal address in MA, but have spent much of 2017 in the panhandle region of West Virginia, not far from friends and family. Over the summer, I drove to Western MA to care for a friend’s home and animals while they were on vacation. I was a little nervous about the trip: it’s 9 hours one way and I drive a 2000 Honda Civic with nearly 300,000 miles. But what worried me the most was the fear of being pulled over by a police man in MA. Not because I’m Black or Latina, but simply because I have an un-inspected car. I made myself small when I would pass a police car. I purposely took back roads to avoid being seen. As I drove around the scenic two lanes and highways of Western MA, having an officer notice an out dated inspection sticker was my biggest worry. And if I were pulled over, what might happen? Arrest, assault, death? No. The greatest consequence would likely be a $40.00 ticket, at the most.

I thought about the reality of my privilege as I drove an un-inspected car. I thought about the fact that even my fears reveal white privilege, that although I am a woman and some of my concerns revolve around issues of domestic violence and rape, that I have no experience with race-based fear. As a white woman, I will not be “targeted” or “profiled” or “followed” or have my name handed over to ICE by Motel 6 employees.

An article I’ve chosen this week from Colorlines creates an “infographic” of racism as it affects a fictional African American family. From institutional racism to individual bias, the difference between a “day in the life” of someone like myself and a member of an African American family is made clear. Did you ever play the Game of Life as a kid? It was one of my family’s favorite board games. The Colorlines article uses that image as a familiar background to further educate readers on the continuing and worsening impact of racism in this country.

Other articles this week include raising brown boys in a Post 9/11 world; Motel 6 releasing their “guest list” to ICE; voter suppression in Texas; predator instructors on College Campuses; an 8 year old New Hampshire boy nearly hung for being black; and an op-ed that focuses on the victimization of people with disabilities in Nazi Germany and the not-impossible parallels to current U S political climate regarding the disabled community.

I’ve opened this week’s Must Reads with three pieces that confront climate change. In addition to the hurricane damage in Houston and Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, and Florida, wildfires are blazing across the West from Washington to California to Montana. Between toxic water and toxic air, it’s hard to believe that climate deniers still exist.

Lastly, I’ve chosen a piece from The Guardian published in 2015 Roxane Gay and Erica Jong discuss intersectional feminism, and the disparities appear to reflect generational concerns as well as issues of “white feminism.” I found the article to be a textbook example of why white women need to be quiet when black women discuss feminism. Listening is key to understanding.

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


  1. As Hurricanes Harvey and Irma wreak havoc on Texas, the Caribbean, and Florida, there seems to be an Armageddon-esque dread floating around on the internet. La Tuna was contained quickly due to the lower temps I mentioned earlier, but there are still 62 fires burning across nine states across the West. It will only get worse as the effects of climate change continue. 
“I’m a Woman Who Fought Wildfires for 7 Years. Climate Change is Absolutely Making Them Worse”/ by Anastasia Selby/ VOX/ September 14, 2017

 


2. The results of The Times’s testing were troubling. Water flowing down Briarhills Parkway in the Houston Energy Corridor contained Escherichia coli, a measure of fecal contamination, at a level more than four times that considered safe.
“Houston’s Floodwaters Are Tainted, Testing Shows”/ by Sheila Kaplan and Jack Healy/ New York Times/ September 11, 2017

  


3. It’s hard not to think that these alterations are just a glimpse of things to come. Perhaps this is the new normal of climate change. With all the dust and smoke in the air, the world will begin to look different. The sky will be milkier, less often intensely blue. Every sunset will be hot pink and hallucinogenic. The green trees of the forest will be cast under a rose lamp.
“Where There’s Fire, There’s Smoke”/ Jason Mark/ New York Times/ September 8, 2017

  


4. “They get the list of people who are staying there, and they run them through to see who is wanted for warrants. If they have someone with a warrant, and they find someone who is undocumented, they call ICE,” Maldonado said.
“Attorneys Suspect Motel 6 Calling ICE on Undocumented Guests”/ by Antonia Noori Farzan and Joseph Flaherty/ Phoenix New Times/ September 13, 2017

 


5. In short order, not only did young Quincy get an early lesson in injustice, but he also got a searing taste of a tried-and-true American dictum: Black lives don’t matter (also, the criminal-justice system protects white men; also, nooses are just play things for silly kids; also, white kids who make mistakes will be protected; also, your body is less important than someone else’s “future;” also, racism is OK; also, you’re not safe).
“Interview: Mother of 8-Year-Old Nearly Hanged in NH Speaks Out on Moving Forward with Her Son”/ by Angela Helm/ The Root/ September 13, 2017

 


6. “The events of the past couple of months have put the focus on individual racism, but when you put the Tiki torches away, we’re still left with longstanding structural and institutional racism that affect families of color every day,” Ben Hecht, president and CEO of Living Cities told Colorlines.
“This Infographic Breaks Down How Racism Impacts Black People Daily”/ by Kenrya Rankin/ Colorlines/ September 13, 2014

 


7. For women of color, the problem is especially severe, according to research released this summer. In that survey, led by STEM sexual harassment expert Kathryn Clancy, 40 percent of women of color in astronomy reported feeling unsafe in their workplaces because of their sex or gender. Meanwhile, over at BuzzFeed News, reporter Azeen Ghorayshi has been documenting cases of prominent academics who, unlike Jaeger, were found guilty of sexual misconduct by their universities: astronomer Geoff Marcy, Ebola expert Michael Katze, and California Institute of Technology astrophysicist Christian Ott, among others.
“She Was a Rising Star at a Major University. Then a Lecherous Professor Made Her Life Hell.”/ by Madison Pauly/ Mother Jones/ September 8, 2017

 


8. The Supreme Court’s abrupt intervention is a devastating blow to the years-long fight against race-based voter suppression in Texas. Since 2011, federal courts have ruled nine times that Texas intentionally discriminated against minority voters. Before Tuesday, civil rights advocates had good reason to believe that the judiciary would finally put a stop to the Texas GOP’s anti-democratic chicanery. Now it seems that the high court’s conservative bloc may thwart this progress and force Texan minorities to continue suffering under a self-perpetuating and racist system of vote dilution.
 “The Racist Map Wins”/ by Mark Joseph Stern/ Slate/ September 13, 2017

 


9. “Here’s the thing, Mr. Woods. At that time I was not a public persona. I had done a couple years on a soap opera as an actress, but you wouldn’t know me from Adam,” she continued. “I’m sure you’ve racked your brain trying to remember how you could’ve possibly hit on the actress Amber Tamblyn at a diner almost two decades ago. You think, it’s not possible, there’s no way I would’ve been so stupid as to hit on a 16-year-old known actress. But I wasn’t known then, James. I was just a girl. And I’m going to wager that there have been many girls who were just girls or women who were just women who you’ve done this to because you can get away with it.”

“Amber Tamblyn Pens Open Letter to James Woods: ‘I See Your Gaslight’”/ by Joyce Chen/ Rolling Stone/ September 13, 2017

 


10. A reading of Hoche and Binding’s “Permitting the Destruction of Unworthy Life” shows the similarity between what they said and what exponents of practical ethics, such as Peter Singer, say about the disabled today. As recently as 2015, Singer, talking with the radio host Aaron Klein on his show, said, “I don’t want my health insurance premiums to be higher so that infants who can experience zero quality of life can have expensive treatments.”
“The Nazis’ First Victims Were the Disabled”/ by Kenny Fries/ New York Times/ September 13, 2017

 


11. “In 2015, I converted to Islam and quickly learned about the discrimination Muslims have been facing first hand. As I began to wear hijab, my visibility as a Muslim women seemed to invite harassment,” Blair said. “A lot of people assume that I’m homophobic, or that queer Muslims could not and did not exist. I do exist.”
“Blair Imani Opens Up About Being Queer, Black and Muslim”/ by Brittney McNamara/ Teen Vogue/ September 12, 2017

 


12. The day after the 2016 election, Shahid, now 20, speaks with me on the telephone. “I’m so worried about you and your brother,” I say. “Why?” he asks, and I think he’s joking. “Because of the registry?” He laughs his deepest laugh and tells me not to worry so much. He says they are already registered, have been since 9/11, or perhaps earlier. I think about it for a moment because, after all, a post-9/11 registry had existed for years. “But it will be more dangerous for you now,” I insist. When I share my concerns with Kamal, now 24, he is equally amused. As I listen to his banter, I’m tempted to abandon my worries, if only for a moment, but then he refers to the U.S. as “Trumpistan” and his gallows humor unnerves me.
“Raising Brown Boys in Post-9/11 America”/ by Sorayya Khan/ Longreads/ September 11, 2017

 


13. In the aughts, Weil taught me that every human relation is a balance between unequal forms of force. The hesitation before action, the mutual regard, even in the face of fear or distrust, is the capsule that contains the possibility of tolerance. To be willing to make oneself a stranger, and to accept a stranger on one’s turf; to face the possibility of danger in an unfamiliar atmosphere, to hold space opposite an other; to risk one’s own annihilation in order to learn, to understand; and for me, to trust men and men’s actions, knowing that men had treated me unkindly, had violated my body, was not an easy thing. But it is an essential component of civilization and contains the beginnings of empathy
“Aughts”/ by Jasmine Dreame Wagner/ Guernica/ September 11, 2017

 


14. “You have to think about how there are multiple barriers for equality for some women. That it’s not just gender. It’s also sexuality, class, race, ethnicity, ability. And we have to take these things into account. We have to realise that just because we’re women does not mean we’re equal.”

“Roxane Gay and Erica Jong Discuss Feminism and it Instantly Gets Awkward”/ by Anna Schachner/ The Guardian/ September 7, 2015

 


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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