June 26, 2020

I’ve been playing the Sims lately. It’s so easy to make friends when you just click Get to Know over and over and pepper it with Tell a Funny Story every now and then…imagine. Anyway, if you’re not familiar or haven’t played since middle school, you’ve got to manage your Sim’s needs like Hygiene, Social, Fun, and Bladder. Not sure which of my needs isn’t being met as I write this (Hunger, probs), but I feel like my comments below might be kinda salty. Whoops! Enjoy.

  1. Non Appétit, Samantha Fore. “You grow up not feeling fair enough, smart enough, slim enough, accomplished enough, so you fight hard for everything you have. When the fruits of your labor start to show, you hope they get the chance to ripen, but ultimately, a white gatekeeper deems otherwise. Being Brown means you know exactly how shortsighted and self-serving these kinds of people can be. You know the deck is stacked against you, but you still don’t want to believe it. […] Being Brown means that you adjust to this being a normal way of life. Being Brown means that when you think you are about to get a career-changing opportunity, someone decides it doesn’t fit the brand and mutes you. You realize the irony, as many of the things they’ve elevated have appropriated Black and Brown culture. You’re 36. You realize that nothing has really changed from when you were 4. You aren’t permitted to convey the joys and triumphs you’ve had, the joy in your culture, the joy that somehow manages to flourish against all odds. You’re just Brown. Nothing more, nothing less.” I’ve been following the implosion at Bon Appetit, where courageous staff of color have revealed the inequities at the magazine, from unpaid contributors to the outright brownface of the (former) editor in chief. This piece puts a moment of discrimination and indifference in the context of this chef’s career and life history. She’s a good writer and also I want to try her food.
  2. ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ Mums Defend the Much-Maligned Decor Trend, Vice. You know what? I’ve been sick of “making fun of mom culture” for a bit. I’m not talking about the (rightful) social media skewering of white women who endanger Black lives with their tears and attempt to harness the police and other authorities to preserve their own fragility. No, that is a trend we gotta reckon with, because we “nice white ladies” are doing harm. Instead, my spicy take is similar to my feeling that the only people who can’t make fun of straight white girls are straight white dudes: I’m tired of seeing jokes that “punch down.” Like, it’s very likely your dang mom has been doing most of the work in your family for years and if you’re making fun of her decor, then I am suspicious of how much you actually appreciate her. Anyway! Let these moms live, laugh, love. Is it hurting anyone? No.
  3. Dear F*k-Up: My Close Friend Is Being Radicalized On the Internet and I Don’t Know What to Do, Jezebel. “I do think we have an obligation to intervene when our friends begin to mentally and morally curdle in front of our eyes. I know some people assert that the right thing to do is immediately and forcefully disavow anyone in your life who starts spouting hateful ideologies, but I’ve always struggled to understand how that helps. If you stop talking to her, others will be there to fill the void, which is basically how radicalization works.” This is specifically focused on a feminist person taking on transphobic attitudes, but I think it’s relevant to any of us when we watch someone we love come under the influence of a hateful or radicalized perspective. I liked this: “The question presented to the world time and time again may be worded differently but it always comes down to: Why aren’t we allowed to say this? Why aren’t we allowed to think this way? Why aren’t we alllllllllooooowed? Constantly whining about what you are and aren’t allowed to do is the preoccupation of children, and besides which, the answer is “you are.” In this world, you are always allowed to be cruel, and you always have been. It is no brave thing to stand with the powerful against those who dare live differently, it’s the easiest and most comfortable choice you can make.” And this sounds like something a British etiquette expert would murmur into a teacup: “How embarrassing it is to be cruel.”
  4. Are there alternatives to calling 911?, Chicago Reader. I love how they describe this workshop’s facilitated conversations as a “brave space,” one that goes beyond a safe space, where you confront discomfort with love. The participants reflect on their experiences calling the police: “They’d called the police in the first place because it didn’t seem like there was anything else they could do in those moments of fear and vulnerability. No one who volunteered to share stories knew what happened to the other parties involved.” This question is provoking and I think we should spend time on it: “Are there alternatives to calling 911?” I sat with a few friends in Baker Park the other day and we tried to come up with a couple different options, depending on the scenario. The things we came up with: Talk to your neighbors. Is your neighbor blasting music late at night or letting their dog bark for hours? It’s like if we went to the teacher to complain about minor and often harmless “disruptions,” and the first thing she would ask is “Well, did you ask them to stop?” Another one was: Wait and see. Sometimes a person sitting in their car in your neighborhood is just reading Google Maps and in a half hour they’ll have moved on. Another was: Examine your definitions of “peace” and “order,” because teenagers laughing loudly on the street might not be your definition of orderly behavior, but is it harming anyone? I liked this quote too: “Increasingly people discussed the frustrations of having to think around the state to address problems the state is supposed to be there to handle. Rather than not calling for professional help when we witness some sort of crisis, can’t we just have an assurance that the help won’t arrive armed and dangerous?”
  5. The Risks: Know Them, Avoid Them, Erin Bromage. This helped me think through risks and what I’m comfortable with. She explains the way the virus travels and places and circumstances make infection more likely, like indoor spaces with recycled air. “The reason to highlight these different outbreaks is to show you the commonality of outbreaks of COVID-19. All these infection events were indoors, with people closely-spaced, with lots of talking, singing, or yelling. The main sources for infection are home, workplace, public transport, social gatherings, and restaurants. This accounts for 90% of all transmission events. In contrast, outbreaks spread from shopping appear to be responsible for a small percentage of traced infections. Importantly, of the countries performing contact tracing properly, only a single outbreak has been reported from an outdoor environment (less than 0.3% of traced infections).

Donation station: Donate $5 with me for a local or national organization fighting for equality and in particular racial justice.

  • The Frederick Center: It’s Pride Month for one more week, let’s kick a little money toward the organization that helped Frederick earn a 100 on the HRC’s Municipal Equality Index. (That’s a pretty big deal!)

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