On Friday morning, I woke up to the incredible news that I, and every other member of the LGBTQ+ community, can get married everywhere in the United States. In a close majority, the Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriage is a Constitutional Right for all U.S. citizens, overturning the state-by-state assessment of legality.
Of course I’m happy. I felt like crying when I heard the news. My dad’s mothers had to wait decades until they could finally send out their wedding invitations. My heart bursts at the thought that the next generation’s queer kids will never live in a country where they cannot get married to those they love. This is a world so many haven’t seen, or haven’t lived to see.
However, while this is a step in the right direction, I can’t feel at peace, not just yet. There is too much left to fix, and what does marriage mean to the 40 percent of homeless youth that are lesbian, gay, trans, or bi? And what does it do about the high suicide rates in our community, or for those who have been sent to conversion therapy, or been abused and murdered for loving who they love? As this article in the Atlantic drives home, this landmark decision isn’t the end of heteronormativity or discrimination; it only shows that the attitudes of the majority are less wack than they have been in the past. We still have a long fight ahead.
The activist and filmmmaker Bree Newsome has removed the confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina Capitol. You can watch this inspiring human in action in the video above. Bree has been arrested; follow the #FreeBree hashtag on Twitter to find ways to support her.
Thinking about the Confederate flag also took me back to this discussion between Kamau Franklin and Jared Ball on the institutionalised nature of white supremacy:
So even now as we’re having this discussion around the Confederate flag and a symbol that of course, you do want taken down. You do want the most sort of objective, in-your-face symbols taken down. But that doesn’t cure what’s happening in this country, and the policies, and the way economics and race are sort of put upon black folks not only in the South but in, all across the country.
President Obama traveled to Charleston, South Carolina yesterday to deliver a eulogy at the funeral of the state senator Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, one of the nine people killed in the Charleston massacre. You can watch the full eulogy above and read the transcript of the eulogy over at the Washington Post.
In the eulogy, Obama names slavery as America’s “original sin” and is direct in his discussion of race saying that, “[f]or too long, we’ve been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present.” I’m not going to lie, despite my discomfort at how Rev. Pinckney’s funeral became a strange kind of spectacle, I was moved to hear the President of the United States speak directly about the anti-black racism that is part of the nation’s institutions. But hearing him articulate the problems so clearly made me even more frustrated that despite having the power to change these institutions, he has not taken legislative action to address the anti-black criminal justice system, the ongoing drug war, and the prison industrial complex.
An undocumented Latina trans woman named Jennicet Gutiérrez interrupted Obama as he gave a speech for LGBT Pride Month, while he was giving lip service to the violence facing trans women of color. For the Washington Blade Jennicet wrote about why she spoke up about undocumented trans women being victimized in U.S. detention centers. Obama shut down the conversation by calling her concern for civil rights violations “not respectful,” which of course begs the question of which members of the LGBT “community” he spoke for that day. Meanwhile, mainstream media coverage labeled Jennicet a “heckler” and made racialized comments about her “accented voice.” As my friend Morgan M. Page tweeted, “Jennicet Gutiérrez should be hailed as a hero. Prides around North America should be booking her as grand marshall.”
After the attack in Charleston last week, like most of America I didn’t know how to process it; another mass shooting and another racist murder of black people. But when I heard that the shooter Dylann Roof told his victims that he had to kill them because they were “raping our women,” I realized that “our women” included me, a white woman.
This article by Chloe Angyal in the New Republic sums up why white women need to speak out on the Charleston murders. After reading it, I realized how important it is to understand a terrorist like Roof as part of a long history of white supremacy, in which white men kill black people to protect white women and the mythology of white womanhood. Angyal writes, “until white women decide that we will no longer be used as an excuse for violence, until we decide that we will no longer tacitly condone and benefit from the violence, we will continue to have blood on our pale, “perfect” hands.” It’s up to me and other white women to say that we don’t condone the murders Roof committed and to acknowledge our complicity in his crime.
Guys, I am so hyper about the 184-page encyclical Pope Francis released last week. An encyclical is a letter that the Pope sends to all the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church to tell them what’s on the menu. Today’s item: climate change. In the letter, the Pope declares in no uncertain terms that climate change is real, that it’s our fault, and that it’s our moral responsibility to deal with it.
It’s a complex document that isn’t just about the environment; it is, as this Vox article states, about “rethinking what it means to be human.” The Pope addresses the devastating impact of climate change on ecosystems, how consumerism makes us less sensitive to nature, and the tragic reality that the poorest areas of our world are the ones which suffer most acutely from the environmental instability caused by greenhouse gasses and deforestation.
I’m super psyched that the Pope is calling bullshit on the centuries-old idea that god made the earth for us to rule over and abuse. He declares that we “must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures.” He even tweeted, “The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” !!!!!!! This is big deal, partly because all the global warming deniers gumming up the American political system are now totally scrambling and starting to look like imbeciles. Shoutout to Pope Frantastic for using his using his pulpit to fight for the planet!
On Tumblr, Taylor Swift wrote an open letter to Apple to voice her disapproval of their new streaming service, Apple Music. Taylor writes, “I’m sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free three-month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I’m not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months…These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call.” What’s even cooler than Taylor’s open letter is Apple’s response: Within just a few hours, the policy was changed and artists were guaranteed payment for the three-month trial. Big props to Taylor for speaking up and to Apple for doing the right thing!
In Cuba, a performance artist named Susana Delahante is organizing beauty pageants for black and mixed race black women with natural hair to promote a collective sense of pride in Cuba’s African heritage. I tend to sneer at anything remotely close to a beauty pageant because I don’t believe that women should ever be ranked against each other for traits that we were born with and pretty much have no control over buuuut…this is a dope idea and I dig it! We need more celebration and visibility of what bell hooks calls “loving blackness as political resistance,” and I’m glad that black Cubans are fostering these kinds of initiatives.
I started reading this essay by Vinson Cunningham about Kehinde Wiley, Kanye West, D’Angelo, and Kendrick Lamar at 3 AM. Even though I was the most exhausted girl in the world, I couldn’t stop reading and re-reading it, which says something about how worthwhile this piece is! Cunningham’s awesome insights on blackness and pop culture had me like “omg, you’re soooo right!” I just love awesome writing that challenges me.
The author of the wonderful YA vampire series, The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, announced that he is transgender and will transition over the next few months. The author will publish future books under his new legal name, Zac Brewer. Brewer has always had an incredible relationship with his fans, who he refers to as “Minions.” In a Tumblr post he asked them to call him Uncle Zac and spoke openly about how keeping his gender identity a secret had contributed to his depression and anxiety. Zac told Publishers Weekly, “I always say to my Minions, ‘Own your weird. Embrace who you are, and whoever you are, you are special.’ It’s been weighing on me that I’m not taking my own advice. How can you tell the world to do it and not do it yourself?” Inspired by Leelah Alcorn, he hopes to help create safe spaces for transgender youth.
If you are a Harry Potter fan, you probably have some serious loathing for the Dursleys, you know, the people who made Harry live in the cupboard under the stairs? JERKS! This week, the author JK Rowling took to Pottermore, aka the fully immersive Harry Potter experience on the web, to talk about the Dursleys. She describes them as “reactionary, prejudiced, narrow-minded, ignorant and bigoted; most of my least favourite things,” and she explains why Petunia couldn’t work up a sliver of kindness for her sister’s son. If you aren’t a Pottermore member (you can be! It’s fun and free!), you can also read Rowling’s thoughts on the Dursleys in the Guardian.
There’s even more exciting Harry Potter news: A Harry Potter play will open in London next summer!!!! It’s called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and according to JK Rowling, it will tell an “untold part” of Harry’s story, although it’s NOT a prequel. Here’s hoping it makes a world tour so Potter fans everywhere can see it!
President Obama appeared on the comedian Marc Maron’s podcast WTF with Marc Maron. It’s a refreshingly candid interview from the President, a person who’s always been very measured with his words. In the hour-long segment, Maron’s awesomely conversational interview style allows the President to open up on topics like growing up biracial, being a dad to teen girls, and the massacre in Charleston.
The plus-sized market encompasses all ages and races, and has the opportunity to be incredibly profitable. So why are fashion designers still making clothes in sizes that are unaccessible to the average American woman? Rather than wait around for the fashion industry to catch up, this article profiles independent designers who are taking plus-sized fashion into their own hands. Everybody deserves clothing that makes them feel confident and expressive, and it is heartening to see a community come together to make this happen!
Vogue magazine profiled Marilyn Mosby, the Baltimore State’s Attorney. For most Americans, our first time learning about Marilyn Mosby was when she announced at a press conference that she was filing criminal charges against the police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray. But, as the article makes clear, Mosby has been committed to social justice and criminal reform for her entire career. I admire Marilyn Mosby so much for choosing a career in public service, where her work is making a difference to the lives of her constituents.
Next week, Susannah Mushatt Jones, THE WORLD’S OLDEST PERSON, turns 116! Happy early birthday, Ms. Jones! Susannah, or Miss Susie, was born in 1899 and lived through both World Wars, the Great Depression, and the Civil Rights Movement. She credits her long life with chewing gum and fancy lingerie. I mean, if wearing cute bras is the fountain of youth, consider my Journelle habit an investment in my longevity!
It’s advice week over at New York Magazine‘s, The Cut. My fav Amy Heckerling, the director of Clueless, talks about wanting to be popular in junior high and how she gradually learned to focus instead on what she cared about rather than what others were interested in.
Who is this kool description about: “She carried a gun and drove a fabulous roadster with abandon—not merely ‘as fast as the law allowed.’ She second-guessed herself, imperfect as anyone else, but could get herself out of dangerous scrapes alone, if need be.” Is it about someone from 2 Fast 2 Furious (lol)? Does it describe some badass contemporary criminal? No! It’s about Nancy Drew, the classic detective novel heroine created by Edward Stratemeyer. But you might be surprised how law-breakin’ and human she sounds in this li’l quote—in the Nancy Drew books I read, our gal was always so demure and proper. This Huffington Post piece about the history of Nancy Drew is fascinating for its depiction of how and why Nancy changed over the years. ♦