Recent Must Reads: A Weekly Roundup

Silence rode in the car with them, like a passenger.
He parked in the clinic lot. Lit a cigarette. Stared out the open window.
She looked at him. Opened her mouth, said nothing.
It was 11:00 in the morning. The sun high, hot. He popped a raspberry wine cooler and rolled a joint.
She thought of reaching for his hand. Instead she opened her door. Only silence followed her inside.
By the time they led her to the gurney, she was shaking. Even the lapis gem, warm in her hand, couldn’t calm her.
Silence and his friend Isolation crushed her chest, closed her eyes to the shelter of darkness, of a far away ether where the sounds of metal medical tools melted into crashing waves.
She knew, out in the truck, he was thinking of a high school girlfriend, of an abortion in a doctor’s living room.
When she returned to the conscious world, the doctor who would have been her abortionist, had she not miscarried, dismissed her…rushed her out of the room for the next lady in waiting.


When I got back into the truck, with a handful of papers on how to care for my D&C procedure, Kevin still said nothing. He didn’t look at me; he just put the truck in gear and drove us home. For days he lived in front of the tv and I stayed under blankets in bed. The wall between us: bricks of mortared silence. If I said I was sad and confused, he yelled at me about how easy my procedure was compared to his high school girlfriend.

I lay in bed for a week, listening to birds and rustling leaves out my window. I vacillated between depression and an attempt to see the bright side, but ultimately, in my fetal position, I clung to “I’m not good enough”, “my story doesn’t matter”, and “I can only count on Myself.” I had told no one but Kevin I was pregnant; so no one knew I’d miscarried. Isolated and alone, I allowed my depression to lead me. In an article from New York magazine, a federal employee discussing the unsatisfactory conditions under Trump at the Department of Homeland Security says, “It’s not a hot emotion. It’s sorrow. It’s like this low-grade depression. If you remove people’s purpose, they’re not going to be able to function.” My purpose had been removed after my procedure. Clear eyed, I could see that my relationship did not hold the connection of mutual love and support that I had believed it did. I was on my own and I couldn’t get out of bed.

A Longreads essay included in this week’s articles tells the story of a woman’s grandfather who, when realizing he and his men are surrounded by Nazis, decided to simply go to sleep, rather than fight the enemy. The next day, the grandfather wakes; he is alive, the enemy gone. That’s what my life was like with my abuser in the weeks after my miscarriage. Instead of confronting, I went to sleep. I woke the next day and the next day until my cowardice, my fear and my inertia had dissolved into anger and action. That’s where I believe many of us find ourselves now: needing to turn our fear and confusion into action. To fight back against an eroding democracy, the way, if we’re lucky, we are able to fight in our personal lives back to a position of strength, of faith in our abilities, and a clear understanding of our purpose.

Please take a look at this week’s stories: a mix of personal essays and reported pieces that focus on the continuing problems in Puerto Rico; the death of Erica Garner; the Iran protests; and the fight for reproductive justice. For these stories and more, Please Read On! Your comments are always welcome.

  1. Being born a black girl meant Erica Garner was far more likely than her white counterparts to have a family marked by the American corrections system. In this country 6% of white men have connections to family members in prison, but 44% of black women are connected to imprisoned family members. Erica’s father was killed by police in 2014, but he had been arrested by the NYPD more than thirty times since 1980.
“Erica Garner Died of a Heart Attack. But it’s Racism That’s Killing Black Women”/ by Melissa Harris-Perry/ ELLE/ January 2, 1018


2. I didn’t think much of this strange phone call until my shadow son contacted me himself via Facebook in early 2010. “This might be an insane question,” his message began before he asked if I had given birth on a certain day in 1985. I had given birth to my youngest child three months before this message. I was still recovering, not only from the birth but from my mother’s death, as well — she had hanged herself in the midst of a psychotic break when the baby was one week old.
“My Shadow Son: A Stranger Insisted He Was My Child for More Than a Decade”/ by Gayle Brandeis/ Washington Post/ January 3, 2018


3. “Women in Iran are highly educated. They are involved in the workforce, arguably more so than any other country in the Middle East, and they are continually suppressed. This is part of their fight to gain their freedom and their rights,” he said.
“Here’s Why the Iran Protests are Significant”/ by Phil Gast, Dakin Andone, and Kara Fox/ CNN/ January 3, 2018


4. The intersection of ageism and sexism provides a uniquely taxing form of oppression. Add a layer of ableism to that and you start to see exactly what Root describes experiencing.
“The Invisibility of Being Old, Disabled, or Both”/ by Grace Birnstengel/ Next Avenue/ December 29, 2017


5. Not only do we need to address the fact that far too many women have sex when they don’t want to because it’s “polite”, but we also need to talk about how many of us, of various genders, are having sex that is painful and/or uncomfortable in ways that we don’t want it to be, but we endure it for the sake of being polite, amiable, or agreeable. Many times, we also endure it for our safety.
“When ‘No’ isn’t Enough and Sexual Boundaries are Ignored”/ by Sherronda J. Brown/ Wear Your Voice/ December 30, 2017


6. This imitation is frequent for people of color, particularly black people. As Césaire asserts in her essay, assimilation has been both encouraged and systematized into society. This “encouragement” is respectability politics: the policing of the behavior of those from marginalized groups for either adhering to or rejecting the dominant culture’s mandate to how to conduct themselves. It is angst catalyzed by colonialism. The notion spans across geographic and cultural boundaries. One of the lasting crimes of the slave trade is that even after the shackles were broken, black people of the diaspora struggled to rediscover their most natural rhythms of being.
“On Suzanne Césaire’s “The Malaise of a Civilization””/ by Morgan Jerkins/ Tin House/ October 16, 2017


7. José Oquendo Cruz, executive director of the area’s largest non-profit helping the disadvantaged, P.E.C.E.S., said a cousin rode his bike to his nephew’s home to break the boredom of being in his home without power. Riding in the dark in Punta Santiago with no electricity to power streetlights, the cousin was hit and killed by a car whose driver fled.
“Anger Grows and Hope Fades as Puerto Rico’s Ground Zero Remains Without Power”/ by Suzanne Gamboa and Daniella Silva/ NBC News/ December 30, 2017


8. “Did you know I had an a-baw-shun?” she would begin, in her Bronx accent, gripping my arm and already teary. My grandmother’s hands, though arthritic, were huge and strong. Her skin was very soft and smelled like Dove soap. She held my arm above the elbow, so I couldn’t get away.
“In Praise of Cowardice”/ by Emily Meg Weinstein/ Longreads/ December 18, 2017


9. I was furious that my boyfriend had left. I was furious he had a body that let him, while mine was tethered to a belly, to the consequence of a choice we’d both made. And I was furious because I’d been in this predicament before. Two years earlier, in Northern California, with a boyfriend who matched the setting perfectly – all billowy pants, bedroom tapestries, and trips to Burning Man. I, however, didn’t match the setting at all. I’d come to California because I wanted to be the exact opposite of who I’d been my whole life: a believing Utah Mormon, and a virgin. So I’d thrown some clothes in a bag and my Book of Mormon across my parents’ living room, then walked past the mark it left and drove until I reached the ocean. I planned to reinvent myself amidst Redwoods and hippies, to become a person who drank alcohol and voted progressive, who said oh my god casually in conversation, in reference to no one.
“I Threw an Effigy-Burning Bonfire for my Female Rage”/ by Ash Sanders/ narratively/ January 1, 2018


10. “In the face of the most corrupt, conflict-ridden president in American history, we cannot stand by and let corporate executives and political lackeys take over,” the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen declared on Twitter. “We must act together. And we must act strategically. 2018 is the year the people fight back like never before.”
“ ‘Anti-Trump Rhetoric Not Enough’: Bold, Progressive Agenda Demanded for 2018”/ by Jake Johnson/ Common Dreams/ January 1, 2018


11. We talk about anger in the resistance, but the sentiment that most of my colleagues and I are feeling isn’t anger. It’s not a hot emotion. It’s sorrow. It’s like this low-grade depression. If you remove people’s purpose, they’re not going to be able to function.
“Am I an Accomplice to This Terrible Thing That’s Happening?”/ by Nick Tabor/ New York Magazine/ August 22, 2017


12. In an open letter, which also ran as a full-page ad in the New York Times, the group pledged support to working-class women. “It’s very hard for us to speak righteously about the rest of anything if we haven’t cleaned our own house,” Shonda Rhimes told the Times. “If this group of women can’t fight for a model for other women who don’t have as much power and privilege, then who can?”
“Reese Witherspoon, America Ferrera, Eva Longoria, Shonda Rhimes Launch Anti-Harassment Action Plan”/ by Trupti Rami/ Vulture/ January 1, 2018


13. Her assertions that Planned Parenthood is “hiding” abortions as “miscarriage management” and that other abortion providers have or will do similar if they can’t offer legal abortion care shows just how easily the anti-abortion movement will pivot into investigating miscarriages if Roe is overturned and states can once more ban abortion.
“A Miscarriage Led to My Fight For Reproductive Justice”/ by Robin Marty/ DAME/ January 4, 2018


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 Joyce is available for commission art work, including celebration shrines for loved ones and pets.

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