Recent Must Reads: A Weekly Roundup

I was a waitress at several different, mostly family run, restaurants for 13 years, from New Hampshire to New Mexico.

What I loved: short shifts; mornings off; flexible hours; camaraderie and cooperation with co-workers; money in my hand at the end of the day; a strong body, waitressing is hard physical work; how it became a “zen” practice for me; hanging out at the bar after closing, commiserating with co-workers; the hour off between shifts when working a “double”; meeting new people; no “homework”; it gave me, an introvert who usually lives in the country, a social life; responding to elite white college town patrons who asked if I was a student: “Yes, I’m studying the Meta-ethics of Radical Feminism” (with nod to Mary Daly); that always shut them up!!!

What I despised: “Hey, baby”; “Hey, hon”; “Hey, sweetie”; “Hey, Blondie”; “Hey, you”; customers running out without paying; male customers whistling to call me over to their table; always being complimented on my permanent smile; always expected to be “nice”; getting pulled over by local police at 2 or 3 in the morning on my way home from work…for no reason; the guy at one restaurant who believed all the waitresses were witches…who told me once I deserved to be burned; men touching my waist; men touching my hips, men touching my hair; men grabbing my arm; men, who because they might leave me a measly $5.00, felt that they had “rights” to my body; a boss who fucked female employees on his desk; a boss who treated me like I was gold because I was white, ignoring all the other waitstaff who were women of color; usually no health insurance; never enough money to save…just enough to get by; co-workers who stole tips.

I think my list of what I loved is pretty much exhausted; however, my list of what I despised could go on and on. The sexism, the harassment, the observation of racism, the belittling tactics of male comments on my body…comments they thought I should find “complimentary,” were never ending. It was always “part of the job.” And in the 80’s and 90’s when I performed this work, and YES, it IS a performance, I had yet to build the confidence to speak my mind, my truth, defend myself. This week, an article from The Guardian discusses sexual harassment of waitresses, but also a practice that I hadn’t fully understood when I was in the business: the monetary aspect of restaurant owners asking customers to pay their employees’ salary. Rose Hackman interviews two women in her article who offer an eye opening perspective on this occupation.

I have a plethora of articles this week….I couldn’t stop myself! So much going on! I have 3 articles on the NFL/racism and how many people are beginning to see that Kaepernick’s protest has unfortunately become a stand for #AllLivesMatter and a defense against Trump, rather than a protest against racism, injustice, and police brutality.   There are a few articles that update the conditions in Puerto Rico and a personal essay in Guernica that recounts waiting for Irma in Florida. Most importantly a piece that reflects the ignorance of Americans, and probably the current White House occupant, not realizing that Puerto Ricans are in fact U.S. citizens.

Also included this week is an article from BUST that discusses women who “walk through the flame”, women who can’t “be burned.” As a kind of “companion” piece, I have shared a story that vividly describes the horrific murder of a trans woman in Missouri, whose body was burned to cover up the crime. On a lighter note, a travel piece from the New York Times narrates a Muslim American woman’s journey through the South and Western United States.

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


  1. All of the cofounders have shown incredible perseverance and fortitude in confronting their abusers alongside the social systems that protect them. After her sexual assault at the age of fifteen, Ella founded her own non-profit to advocate on behalf of teenaged survivors of sexual violence. Jada fought back and began her own social media campaign, #JusticeForJada, after her rape went viral. Daisy was assaulted by a friend of her older brother’s at the age of fourteen, and left outside her house in below-freezing temperatures. Daisy’s search for justice was featured prominently in the documentary film, Audrie and Daisy.
Ready For Change: Discussing Sexual Assault With SAFEBAE”/ by Marissa Korbel/ The Rumpus/ September 27, 2017

 


2. In this case, the lack of media attention could lead people to ignore Puerto Rico’s plight. Our sympathies for other people depends in part on whether we see them as fellow members of our tribe. Without more coverage, it may be easy to forget that the people suffering are our fellow Americans.
“Nearly Half of Americans Don’t Know Puerto Ricans Are Fellow Citizens”/ by Kyle Dropp and Brendan Nyhan/ New York Times/ September 26, 2017

 


3. White supremacy is the structural mechanism built into American society that values whiteness over everything by default. It is not a preference or even a prejudice. It is the dismissive apathy that disregards the freedom and equality of people. It is the repeated placing of white discomfort over bloody black pain.
“Sponsors are Dropping NFL Players for Protesting”/ by Michael Harriot/ The Root/ September 26, 2017

 


4. Sure enough, recently, one of those storms appeared in Charlottesville, Virginia, with a flood of neo-Nazis and Confederates from all over, leaving one dead and setting the stage for many more storms to follow. The storm, as metaphor for fear and social political disruption, is so apparent, it’s almost cliché. But when you consider the recent number of catastrophic weather events—Harvey, Sandy, Katrina, the recent earthquake in Mexico, and monsoons in South Asia—it almost feels like nature is mirroring back humanity’s own social physics or trying to tell us something about our collective narcissism. Or maybe this is the strongest evidence yet for global warming.
“Waiting For Hurricane Irma”/ by John Sims/ Guernica/ September 27, 2017

 


5. “The water just pushed through the door, as if it had been left open,” Carraquillo said. “We all evacuated the day after the storm, because we were warned about the flash flood that might come. Everyone left, just to be safe, except for two older men that lived a few houses away. They just didn’t want to leave. When we came back, we found out the flood had killed them right there in that apartment.”
“‘If Anyone can Hear us … Help.’ Puerto Rico’s Mayors Describe Widespread Devastation From Hurricane Maria”/ by Samantha Schmidt and Daniel Cassady/ Washington Post/ September 23, 2017

 


6. “LA/LA” has done something indisputably and lastingly positive. It has produced a wealth of new scholarship, a mountain of catalogs. But the only thing that will change the canon, write the right history, is to make art that has been excluded consistently present, present in many shows, in many institutions, with those shows appearing one after the other, over long stretches of time, so that the art is never out of sight; so that it is perceived, not as an exotic luxury, but as a necessity.
“A Head-Spinning, Hope-Inspiring Showcase of Art”/ by Holland Cotter/ New York Times/ September 21, 2017

 


7. If you know someone who is autistic at work, don’t assume that she doesn’t want to socialize even if she rarely initiates conversations. She might keep her office door closed most of the time because it’s easy to get distracted by any sort of noise, but this doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to interact with her coworkers. Most of my attempts at socializing happen in awkward moments in the doorways of my colleagues’ offices. I want to be more social, but I have a lot difficulty having a conversation that doesn’t have a defined purpose.
“I’m an Autistic Woman, and This Is How I Navigate the Workplace”/ by Jennifer Malia/ Glamour/ September 26, 2017

 


8. We generally don’t know what to do with women who refuse to succumb to the flames we place them in, women like Hilary Clinton or Michelle Obama, journalists like Lauren Duca and Anita Sarkeesian, even entertainers like Madonna and Beyoncé. Women who have learned to walk through the flames rather succumbing to them.
“Hillary Clinton And Women Who Don’t Burn”/ by Dina Honor/ Bust/ September 27, 2017

 


9. The Endocrine Society, an international organization of medical experts and biological researchers, has released a new set of guidelines for caring for transgender patients. Along with the guidelines, the organization has issued a position statement calling on federal and private insurers to cover the costs of all medical interventions a physician might prescribe for a transgender patient, including hormone replacement therapies and surgeries.
“Experts Confirm Gender Identity is Biological and Say Insurers Should Cover Trans Health Needs”/ by Zack Ford/ Think Progress/ September 27, 2017

 

 

10. Having the presence of elders in my life who lived through some of the most turbulent moments in this country really helps to give me perspective around that. So people who were part of the Black Panther party and people who helped lead the third world women’s liberation movement and people who were a key part of the anti-war movement against the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Their clarity and their perspective is so helpful personally because it makes me understand that things change slowly and there are moments of eruption that disrupt how we do things now. But to cement or make permanent those disruptions takes time. People take time to change how they do things and we make a lot of mistakes along the way. And so part of it is how do you train yourself to be a long-distance runner as opposed to trying to sprint everywhere and getting winded all the time?
“Don’t Try to Do Everything at Once and other advice on activism from Alicia Garza of Black Lives Matter”/ by Ann Friedman/ The Cut/ September 12, 2017

 


11. Ally Steinfeld, 17, was found dead last week in a rural area near a mobile home occupied by one of the suspects, the Associated Press reports. Both local and national media identified Steinfeld by a male name, but The TM Planet, a website focusing on transgender issues, identified her as Ally. She had been stabbed repeatedly, including in the genitals, and her eyes had been gouged out, according to the AP. Her body was burned in an attempt to conceal evidence of the crime.
“Trans Teen Brutally Murdered in Missouri; Four Charged”/ by Trudy Ring/ Advocate/ September 26, 2017

 


12. I remember, at some young age, being at the grocery store with my parents when a white woman approached us and asked, “And where is this one from?” as though I were some curiosity acquired from a catalogue. You can experience “harmless” racism like this as commonplace, week in and week out, and still understand that it is wrong. I hated the woman’s phrasing, her strangely benevolent smile, her expectation that we would answer because the information was hers to demand.
“On American Identity, The Election, and Family Members Who Support Trump”/ by Nicole Chung/ Longreads/ September 28, 2017

 


13. It’s not a perfect world, and the community is anxious about perception problems — several young Somali Americans asked not to be quoted. But with the anti-refugee rhetoric surging across the country, I came to Minneapolis to see what it looks like when a city throws open its doors.
“A Muslim American’s Homecoming: Cowboys, Country Music, Chapatis”/ by Sarah Khan/ New York Times/ September 26, 2017

 


14. I ask her to explain what she means. “They can be demeaning, look down on you like you’re a college dropout. Like they don’t think you’re working a real job. Sometimes they don’t treat you like you’re a human being. Sometimes they treat you like a whore.”
“’You Will be Sexually Harassed’: Just one of the Perils of Working for Tips”/ by Rose Hackman/ The Guardian/ September 28, 2017

 


15. Once it became apparent that taking a knee could be “just a protest against Trump” suddenly lots of folks were doing it. Much like with the March for Science—which took clear inspiration from the inauguration weekend Women’s March—scientists saw an opportunity to make their opposition to Trump’s agenda known. On Tuesday morning, as #ScientistsTakeAKnee trended on Twitter, a lot of people were talking about why taking a knee mattered. But by 10 a.m., only one of those tweets included a photo of someone actually taking a knee. Beyond that, the act of taking the knee has never been the point: How many of them actively intend to protest police brutality, anti-black segregation of socioeconomic resources, mass incarceration, and the myriad other forms of anti-blackness that Kaepernick has talked about over the years?
“The Whitewashing of #TakeAKnee”/ by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein/ Slate/ September 27, 2017

 


16. But like most forms of protest that become a hashtag for us, #TakeTheKnee morphed into an all-lives-matter-esque, watered-down version of NFL players and owners against Trump. Never mind that Trump wasn’t even in office when Kaepernick began his protest. Of the teams who issued statements, seven mentioned the president, two used the words “social injustice,” two others mentioned working with local police departments and one of them (Seattle Seahawks) specifically said they were protesting on behalf of people of color.
“How the NFL Turned Colin Kaepernick’s Protest into #AllLivesMatter”/ Jozen Cummings/ The Root/ September 26, 2017

 


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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