- Susan Sontag
* Despite the title, nothing about this installment (language, content or otherwise) is "enjoyable" in any sense of the word.
[A]fter viewing the footage and hearing from witnesses, including the officer who used the chokehold, the jurors deliberated for less than a day before deciding that there was not enough evidence to go forward with charges against the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, 29, in the death of the man, Eric Garner, 43...Officer Pantaleo said in statement on Wednesday that he felt “very bad about the death of Mr. Garner."
"I think what is so utterly depressing is that none of the ambiguities that existed in the Ferguson case exist in the Staten Island case. And yet the outcome is exactly the same: no crime, no trial; all harm, no foul. In Ferguson at least you had conflicting witness testimony, you had conflicting forensics. You had the spectre, at least, of police self-defense. But here, there is none of that. The coroner called it a homicide. The guy’s not acting threatening and we know that not through witness testimony [of] unreliable bystanders, but because we are fucking watching it. Someone taped it…We are definitely not living in a post-racial society, and I can imagine there are a lot of people imagining how much of a society we’re living in at all.”
On a related note:
It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to enquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor. Respublica v. Shaffer, 1 Dall. 236 (O. T. Phila. 1788); see also F. Wharton, Criminal Pleading and Practice § 360, pp. 248-249 (8th ed. 1880). As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.
- Justice Antonin Scalia explains what the role of a grand jury has been for hundreds of years...and yet "[Prosecutor] McCulloch allowed Wilson to testify for hours before the grand jury and presented them with every scrap of exculpatory evidence available" (h/t DM)
Many white people think that these cries of outrage over racism by African Americans are directed at them, which makes them frightened, defensive and equally outraged. They feel like they are being blamed for a problem that’s been going on for many decades, even centuries. They feel they are being singled out because of the color of their skin rather than any actions they’ve taken. They are angry at the injustice. And rightfully so. Why should they be attacked and blamed for something they didn’t do? Which is exactly how black people feel. The difference is that when the media frenzy dies down, and columnists, pundits and newscasters take a break from examining the causes of social evils, white people get to go back to their lives of relative freedom and security. But blacks still have to worry about being harassed or shot by police. About having their right to vote curtailed by hidden poll taxes. Of facing a biased judicial system. Every. Single. Day.
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, "Welcome to Our World"
“We went from our first name being ‘nigger’ and our last name being ‘boy’, to our first crime being Black and our second crime being Alive."
Whites, who benefit from racism, think it is acceptable to tell Black people to “behave” like MLK, when he was murdered for the same reasons that we have to fight today.
So what I would do [when I was pulled over] was: I would slip my college ID over my driver's license. The officer's eyes would light up. Not your college ID, he would say, amused. Then he would go back to his car and dally a little, pretending to check on things, before handing my license back with some mock-heroic advice about staying out of trouble. The story ends right there. I remember feeling vague anger afterwards, although I was probably feeling something a lot closer to despair. Every time I used the college ID trick, it bred in me a kind of survivor's guilt, a guilt about a life that feels as if it's being protected weakly, through cowardice. Because what I was really doing was saying, Yes, some of us deserve to be shot in the street, but this ID proves that I'm not one of them. I used the little plastic card to secure my status as One Of The Good Ones, and I always drove away ashamed, always. At best, I was reducing my humanity — my right to not get shot by a police officer — to a giveaway received during freshman orientation. At worst, I was just delaying what is now starting to feel inevitable... This is probably a good time to backtrack a little and talk about fear. To be black and interact with the police is a scary thing. The fear doesn't have to come from any kind of historical antagonism, which, trust me, would be enough; it can also come from many data points of personal experience, collected over time. Almost all black men have these close-call-style stories, and we collect and mostly keep them to ourselves until one of us is killed... The thing to remember is that each of these experiences compounds the last, like interest, so that at a certain point just seeing a police officer becomes nauseating. That feeling is fear.
- Do yourself a favor and take a quick moment to read Lanre Akinsiku's "Price of Blackness" in its entirety
I came into that meeting knowing that the illest part of racial terror in this nation is that it's sanctioned by sorry overpaid white bodies that will never be racially terrorized and maintained by a few desperate underpaid black and brown bodies that will. I left that meeting knowing that there are few things more shameful than being treated like a nigger by — and under the gaze of — intellectually and imaginatively average white Americans who are not, and will never have to be, half as good at their jobs as you are at yours... My Vassar College Faculty ID affords me free smoothies, free printing paper, paid leave, and access to one of the most beautiful libraries on Earth. It guarantees that I have really good health care and more disposable income than anyone in my Mississippi family. But way more than I want to admit, I'm wondering what price we pay for these kinds of ID's, and what that price has to do with the extrajudicial disciplining and killing of young black human beings.
- Like Akinsiku's piece (above), Kiese Laymon's "My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK" is well worth your time to read
"While traditional retailers will be monitoring store traffic and sales on Black Friday, online retailers have set their sights on something different: Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, which is quickly becoming one of the biggest online shopping days of the year."
"Everyone on the internet thinks they could be a better dino supervisor - BUT YOU WEREN'T THERE."
Over the next ten months, we learned to truly love our son. Period. No buts. No conditions. Just because he breathes. We learned to love whoever our son loved. And it was easy. What I had been so afraid of became a blessing. The journey wasn’t without mistakes, but we had grace for each other, and the language of apology and forgiveness became a natural part of our relationship. As our son pursued recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, we pursued him. God taught us how to love him, to rejoice over him, to be proud of the man he was becoming. We were all healing…and most importantly, Ryan began to think that if WE could forgive him and love him, then maybe God could, too.
- Rob and Linda Robertson, whose 17-year-old son died of a drug overdose after his Christian parents initially refused to accept his homosexuality, have become advocates for the LGBTQ community
White people simply love to spend their free time walking up and down mountains and sleeping in the forest.
- The Great Outdoors has a diversity problem (See also: The NYT addresses the National Parks' attempt to appeal to minorities / Stuff White People Like: Outdoor Performance Clothing)
[T]he boundary separating white Anglo upscale school districts from the burgeoning non-white and non-Anglo populations in downscale communities is fast becoming a flashpoint inside America.
- Robert Reich examines "border patrol" issues in regards to public school enrollment
1915 (Crisco) to 2014 (Soylent)
“But I think what I can say is that Toadette and Toad are not siblings -- perhaps it would be more accurate to say they are adventure pals."
- In case you were wondering, Nintendo's characters don't necessarily follow the gender binary
"Nothing is worse than not being noticed."
- Jeremiah Tower, of Chez Panisse, Stars and California cuisine fame, is set to take on Tavern on the Green
Here’s the thing. When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before. So, to say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. [T]he thing is, we treat racism in this country like it’s a style that America went through. Like flared legs and lava lamps. Oh, that crazy thing we did. We were hanging black people. We treat it like a fad instead of a disease that eradicates millions of people. You’ve got to get it at a lab, and study it, and see its origins, and see what it’s immune to and what breaks it down.
- Chris Rock on pop culture, civil rights and everything in between. Take a few minutes to read his interview in its entirety, you won't regret it.
Our single-minded focus on increasing wealth has succeeded in driving the planet's ecological systems to the brink of failure, even as it's failed to make us happier. How did we screw up? The answer is pretty obvious—we kept doing something past the point that it worked. Since happiness had increased with income in the past, we assumed it would inevitably do so in the future.
- In not entirely groundbreaking news: Money ≠ Happiness
"People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”