Before my columns are published each Sunday, my editor, Ladan Osman, reads them with a generous and critical eye, offering suggestions, clarification, and revision ideas to assist in complicating my arguments. I am deeply grateful for her insight. Recently Ladan was curious how I choose my weekly Must Reads articles and the columns that accompany them. This week I will discuss that process.
Back in January when ROAR was about to be launched, ROAR publisher, Anna March, gave me free reign in terms of how I might approach my Must Reads column. Anna advised me to be aware of including many diverse voices and issues. She gave me some suggestions as to what my column might look like, and in the early days I chose my articles, trying to be open to many different issues of the week, and my column was basically a summary of the week’s events.
From there, my column evolved to devoting several paragraphs to a more fully developed argument of one highlighted article of the week. I rarely at this point included my own views or experiences. Instead, I stuck to the issues at hand and created arguments based on the writers’ works. In the summer, Ladan took over as my editor and after brainstorming some ideas with her, I began writing columns in which I connected a personal experience in my life to a Must Reads article of the week. That’s when the writing became more meaningful to me and more passionate. I enjoyed becoming personally involved with stories and with sharing my experiences. I was vacillating between the attempt to create continuity in my column and to also remain creatively vital. That’s when Ladan suggested that I allow each week’s column to develop organically. That perspective excited me. As a result, some of my columns now begin with a personal anecdote, or a separated series of ideas based on article topics, or inclusion of a poem that I or another writer has written, or a list, or an “I remember” prose poem.
I continue to search weekly for articles that I believe will resonate with ROAR readers: articles that cover climate change, LGBTQ+ issues, disabled communities, concerns and stories of women of color, stories about economic inequities, domestic violence and rape, published pieces that challenge white women and our privilege. I search for reported articles and personal essays, for relevant interviews and even timely and important obituaries. I do my best to keep an eye on issues of immigration, police brutality, and marginalized communities like Puerto Rico and the lack of U.S. support since Hurricane Maria. I try to stay aware of what is happening in the Native American community and the lives of Muslim women and children, of issues concerning Palestinians and Jewish communities and organizations.
Everyday I scroll through Facebook and Twitter; I post interesting articles to my page that I can then go back and read before my column is due on Thursday evenings. I usually start out with between 20 and 25 possibilities and narrow it down to 12 or 14 top picks for Must Reads. As much as I can, I try to include as many different topics as possible. At times, I include two or three different perspectives on an issue. I usually stay away from stories that I know readers will be very familiar with, unless I find a piece that offers a unique way of approaching or viewing that subject. My column is a challenge to myself to become more open and more discerning in my own beliefs and assumptions, and I hope that readers approach the articles in a similar way.
This week, the articles I have chosen include issues of sexual harassment at Ford, the opioid concern in Native American communities, the dismantling of our country’s “safety net”, the dangers of traveling the United States when one is gay, and the silencing of black women. Last week I challenged myself and my readers to commit to finding ways of carrying out actions that promote political change. This week I have posted an article from Everyday Feminism that offers concrete steps in that direction.
So, for these stories and more, Please Read On! Your comments are always welcome.
But after a man Ms. Wright had trusted as a mentor made a crack about paying her $5 for oral sex, she asked her union representative for help. He began what she calls a “don’t-file-a-claim-against-Bill” campaign: Her co-worker would lose his job, his benefits, his pension, she was told. Rumors spread, questioning their relationship. Then a union official delivered the final insult: “Suzette, you’re a pretty woman — take it as a compliment.”
“How Tough Is It to Change a Culture of Harassment? Ask Women at Ford”/ by Susan Chira and Catrin Einhorn/ New York Times/ December 19, 2017
2. The rule of law depends not only on things that are written down, but also on important traditions and norms, such as apolitical law enforcement. That’s why Democratic and Republican administrations alike, at least since Watergate, have honored that the rule of law requires a strict separation between the Justice Department and the White House on criminal cases and investigations. This wall of separation is what ensures the public can have confidence that the criminal process is not being used as a sword to go after one’s political enemies or as a shield to protect those in power. It’s what separates us from an autocracy.
“Who Are We as a Country? Time to Decide: Sally Yates”/ by Sally Q. Yates/ USA Today/ December 19, 2017
3. The skids for these cuts have been greased by decades of lies about anti-poverty programs and their effectiveness. Conservatives usually refer to cutting the safety net as an attempt to reduce “waste, fraud, and abuse,” or end a “culture of dependence”—but in reality it’s simply looking squarely at our neighbors, demonizing them, and then turning our backs. The only thing missing is a spit in the eye for emphasis. The underlying problem is that Americans often buy into conservative rhetoric about “welfare” and the media are all too often complicit. A long history of racially coded language has painted people with low incomes as undeserving of assistance, and there is a persistent lack of education about what our safety net is, and whom it benefits. How many Americans know that more than one in two of us will experience at least a year of poverty or near-poverty during our working years?
“The Republican Plan Isn’t Just About Taxes—It’s About Shredding the Safety Net”/ by Greg Kaufmann/ The Nation/ December 19, 2017
4. The opportunity to educate and to provide positive visibility, advocates say, are just a couple of the reasons LGBTQ representation in government matters. But the city council in Palm Springs remains an anomaly. In the rest of the country, LGBTQ people remain underrepresented at every level of government. According to the Victory Institute, they hold just 0.1 percent of all elected positions nationwide, compared to an estimated 4 percent of their representation in the general population, according to a recent Gallup poll.
“Meet America’s First All-LGBTQ City Council”/ by John Paul Brammer/ NBC News/ December 16, 2017
5. “Using this concept, I sketched a couple ideas for creating a juxtaposition of innocent people and the man who violates their rights in words and actions. I wanted to represent them as human beings wrapped in the protective text of the article while he spews vitriol and condemnation from the fringe.”
“These Embroiderers Are Stitching A United Declaration Of Human Rights Quilt”/ by Cecilia Nowell/ Bust/ December 15, 2017
6. These are only a few examples of how movements like #BlackLivesMatter use social media alongside grassroots organizing as a catalyst for activism. It’s worth noting that many current policy changes—like the recent repealing of net neutrality—are particularly tough on marginalized people who rely heavily on the Internet for agency, education, and activism.
“Social Media Has its Pitfalls But You Can Use it For Positive Change—Here’s How”/ by Alaina Leary/ Everyday Feminism/ December 18, 2017
7. Gentrification and police violence don’t necessarily have a causal relationship. But stepped-up law enforcement does create conditions for more potential misconduct. That’d be true in any neighborhood that suddenly saw an influx of police—it’s a simple matter of numbers. “If you’re ticketing more people or patrolling more often, you’re stopping more people to ask questions on the street,” Sampson said. “Now, that’s different than pulling a gun and shooting someone, or beating someone up, but the more stop-and-frisks and the more interactions you have, then probabilistically, you’re increasing the risk for police brutality. So it’s sort of a sequence or cycle.”
“The Criminalization of Gentrifying Neighborhoods/ by Abdallah Fayyad/ The Atlantic/ December 20, 2017
8. Nina Simone is finally being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year. But you know how they described her sound? As “unapologetic rage and accusatory.” I guess not even an iconic voice of the civil rights movement can be fully respected as a black woman without being portrayed as an angry black woman.
“Need Proof that America Silences Black Women? Just Read This”/ by Jenee Osterheldt/ Kansas City Star/ December 16, 2017
9. The fact that this corporate giveaway will likely result in cuts to Medicaid will hit women disproportionately. Medicaid covers 25 million women. Currently, almost half of all the births in the United States are covered by Medicaid. Much of that coverage is for women who are already in what is defined as “vulnerable populations”—single parents, women of color, and women in poor health. When this deficit-exploding tax bill becomes law, this already-frayed part of the social safety net will be gone, leaving women utterly unprotected.
“How the Senate Tax Bill Hurts Women”/ by Lisa Needham/ DAME Magazine/ December 18, 2017
10. For 15 minutes, the high beams on the vehicle mirrored us each time we changed lanes, even when we got off at an exit. Apparently, whoever they were had been following us since Whiteville. My stomach lurched.
“The Risks of Traveling While Queer”/ by Joanne Spataro/ New York Times/ December 16, 2017
11. It’s been a difficult year, to say the least. Natural disasters. Political gridlock. Attacks on reproductive justice, LGBT rights, and immigrant communities. And more. But amidst it all, folks have been stepping up to the plate to organize and resist. It’s now an annual Colorlines tradition to highlight women we think deserve extra shine as the year ends, and in 2017 we’re focusing on ones who’ve been leading the resistance in the movement for social justice. We hope they provide you with some inspiration for your own acts of resistance.
“17 Women of Color Who Rocked the Resistance in 2017”/ by Miriam Zoila Perez/ Colorlines/ December 18, 2017
12. The loss of the Old Arctic is as close as humanity has come so far to irreversibly transforming its planet into something fundamentally different than what has given rise to civilization over the past 10,000 years. This is a terrifying transition, and one worth mourning. But it’s also a reminder that our path as individuals and as a society is not fixed.
“Let it Go: The Arctic Will Never Be Frozen Again”/ by Eric Holthaus/ Grist/ December 18, 2017
13. “There’s the issue of land rights, and their ability to access the basic forms and services,” Maxman continues. “Some have submitted their applications and been rejected. We’re not getting anything close to the compensation that is required to rebuild. It’s important to build back strong and build back better—that’s critical right now. By underinvesting in that, it perpetuates a week system and a weak cycle. People have a voice now and understand what their rights are and have support to make the claims of what they’re entitled to.”
“Here’s What Life is Like in Puerto Rico 3 Months After Hurricane Maria”/ by Jack Holmes/ Esquire/ December 21, 2017
14. “I believe these companies target populations,” said Mr. Hembree, whose office displays include a feathered spear and a dish of bundled sage to burn for traditional blessings. “They know Native Americans have higher rates of addiction. So when they direct their product here, they shouldn’t be surprised to find themselves in a Cherokee court.”
“In Opioid Battle, Cherokee Want their Day in Tribal Court”/ by Jan Hoffman/ New York Times/ December 17, 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.