I am devastated.

First I want to say: to my dear friends and family and colleagues and students, queer, immigrant, poor, Muslim, Jewish, Mexican, female, black, brown, disabled, and more: I love you, and I have your back.

Everyone I see is struggling. A few resources to get us through the day:

1. As they say at Another Round: drink some water, take your meds, call your person. In other words: take care of yourself. Take care of your loved ones. Connect with community.

2. Our first and vital act of resistance is to remain. If you are struggling today:
Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255
Trans Crisis Hotline: 877-565-8860
LGBTQ+ Hotline: 866-488-7386
Or TEXT Crisis Line: text “GO” TO 741741 (texts))

3. Many organizations are ready for your time, your money, and your requests if you need help. Here are a few. Feel free to add more in comments below, and remember to find your local orgs as well.

– Lambda Legal (nationally) and GLAD (regionally) have a long and effectively history of advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, specifically and strongly including transgender people.
– The ACLU is our go-to for voting rights.
– CAIR is the Council on American-Islamic Relations. It comes highly recommended from Muslim activists I follow online.
– Good journalism is going to be vital. If you can, subscribe to your preferred source. NPR, the New York Times, and the Washington Post have done good work at various times this year. Not everyone can pay for content; if you can, why not buy someone else a subscription?
– Planned Parenthood.
– Showing Up For Racial Justice, a group organizing white people specifically to do this work.

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OH MY GOD DANVERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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There is always a loss when we are the oppressor

In a discussion about the article “Why Straight White Women Perpetuate the Patriarchy” a friend asked, essentially: “how much can we push back against/reject patriarchy and its hand-me-down privileges without simply living a life of sacrifice?” This was SUCH an important question that I want to share a version of my response.

Several years ago I was grappling with this on many fronts: how do I challenge existing systems and reject privilege without just creating a life of suffering? I don’t believe radical change comes from suffering or sacrifice or punitive self-abnegation. The truth is, no existence or community to which we should aspire is dependent on pain. For me, the answer was to allow myself to feel, notice, experience the suffering that was created BY the system that benefited me. So that I could become genuinely uncomfortable (slowly, incompletely, progressively) with that system. Then, challenging it would be a relief and not a sacrifice.

My media discussion group is an example of that practice. If I had just said one day “I will stop watching all media that’s oppressive to anyone” I would have experienced it as sacrifice, I wouldn’t have been able to do it, and I would have started making excuses and resented the people I was “supporting.” But, as I increased my awareness and attention, racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic/classist/etc media actually felt oppressive to ME. I de-normalized those experiences and they became a cause of suffering. And I created a community that would support me. Then, I found alternatives to e.g. all-white TV shows and I no longer felt like it was a sacrifice.

I believe very deeply that experiencing the benefits of an oppressive system is, in its own way, a kind of alienation from the world and a danger to our need for human connection and compassion and empathy. There is always a loss when we are the oppressor. Once we feel that–however imperfectly, however momentarily, in whatever limited sphere–then radical change becomes a relief from suffering and the question is resolved.

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This is just to say

Yesterday I cut up a plum and one second later T. walked out of his office and picked up a few slices. He popped one in his mouth and then yelped “OH!! SORRY!” and absolutely FLUNG the other pieces back onto the cutting board.

I stared at him. He said, “I thought, PLUMS, yummy so I snitched them and then I REMEMBERED THE POEM!! You were planning to eat a plum and I TOOK IT!”

William Carlos Williams, you live on in the tiny details of domestic life.

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I want to tell you what Ghostbusters means to me.

I want to tell you what Ghostbusters means to me.

The movie comes out in 1984. I am ten. I see it in the theater with my dad, a rare thing in a house with no television, and we love it. My dad, who is a scientist, especially loves that famous line: “Back off, man! I’m a scientist!” We say it a lot, around the house, about what to have for dinner and other tiny conflicts, and we laugh and laugh. I think I might be a scientist when I grow up and I’m so delighted that a famous movie has a scientist hero.

Fast forward a few decades. The internet, I suddenly realize, makes it possible to see the whole glorious scene in which the scientist declares his mastery. A bare minute on Google, and I watch a brief video clip containing this dialogue:

Venkman: Alice, I’m going to ask you a couple of standard questions, okay? Have you or any of your family been diagnosed schizophrenic? Mentally incompetent?

Alice: My uncle thought he was Saint Jerome.

Venkman: I’d call that a big yes. Uh, are you habitually using drugs? Stimulants? Alcohol?

Alice: No.

Venkman: No, no. Just asking. Are you, Alice, menstruating right now?

Library administrator: What has that got to do with it?

Venkman: Back off, man. I’m a scientist.

I feel, literally, like I’ve been hit. I feel it in my gut, my own memory twisting, the realization that something I loved was in fact a pure expression of disgust and scorn for me. I understand that I’ve spent most of my life believing that we were in on the joke together, Venkman and me, the Ghostbusters and me, the 2 million Google hits for “back off man i’m a scientist” and me. I learn, belatedly, that we were never together. I was never in on the joke. The joke was always on me.

I know in this moment that I will never watch this movie again. I can’t bear to see how much it hates me, and I can’t decide which would be worse: option A, knowing this, I can’t love it any more; or option B, knowing this, I still do.

In 2014, when we first hear the preposterous claim “an all-female Ghostbusters is destroying my childhood, feminism is destroying my childhood,” I remember that gut-punch, the poison seeping into my happy memories, and I think: That’s right, you fuckers, feminism destroys your childhood, that idyllic time when casual misogyny masqueraded as love, and you didn’t even know what it was like to be in the story as anything other than a punchline.

Here is what the new Ghostbusters gives me, as I sit in the theater with a group of friends and a good audience: a compassion and respect that allows an unexpected generosity of spirit. Every time the theme swells I bounce in my seat. Every time an original cast member makes a cameo there’s an “ahh!” and a pattering of applause throughout the theater. For the first time in several years, I’m remembering what I loved, not what didn’t love me back.

Plus, I mean, Holtzmann.


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Day 4: part of a series on taking action

Day 4: Find, or make, community to sustain your activism, your heart, your well-being. The world is overwhelming, violence is overwhelming, hatred and suffering are overwhelming. Find artists who speak to you, who rile you up in the right ways, who affirm your sense that justice and respect are indeed the values of your heart. Keep an eye out for others who are silent but might be ready to speak. Check in with a friend, join a group, attend an event, have a conversation. Do not expect that you, isolated, can form a solitary outpost against the entire weight of centuries of oppression. Find allies, comrades, co-conspirators against injustice. Don’t go alone.

At yesterday’s event at MIT, we closed with words from Associate Dean DiOnetta Jones Crayton. She quoted a poem by Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Imagine what responsibility, what obligation, would come with this power! Yet it IS this obligation that falls to us. For this we must prepare ourselves. The time is now.


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Sunday afternoon moment of peace

Book is SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES, by F. H. Batacan, considered the first Filipino crime novel.


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