The constant invocation of white “rights” remains a measure of our entitlement and immaturity as a country. It shows our understanding of how community works hasn’t evolved much since genocidal slavers drafted our founding documents.

What you say might make a smidgin sense if white selfish, superstitious idiots hadn’t maintained iron-fisted control of our state for 240+ years. And if they weren’t currently engaged in a coordinated campaign to make white nationalism the law of the land, and succeeding to a terrifying degree because white people can’t hear themselves when it comes to stochastic terrorism and anti-Blackness.

Again, I ask:

Have we run out of dangerous white people to hold accountable? …

3 fun ways to turn conventional writing wisdom on its ear

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Photo by Jack Gisel on Unsplash

Writers love bounding ourselves and each other with rules. Rules about writing conditions, writing timelines, writing techniques and stratagems. We publish complex cost-benefit analyses and market them as Productivity: X ways of producing Y number of words in Z many hours, weeks, or years = income, career, and readership. Maybe we crave structure to create. Or maybe, as basically conscientious workers with repressed rebellious streaks, these rules just feel so good to break.

Here are a few ways writers can flout assumptions about “best practice,” flipping rules we’ve been trained to live and work by to crash through boundaries which no longer serve us. …

8. The word “listicles.”

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10. Standing close to hold the door for me with your pestilential, COVID-infected claw. Chivalry has always killed women, but this is a little on-the-nose. Back, Ivanhoe, back!

9. Productivity culture. Sorry if you live and die at the feet of Ryan Holiday and Seth Godin, but white men’s best thinking got us here. Besides, these dudes’ ethos is batshit. It’s rabidly Eurocentric (oy with the Athenian philosophers already — get a room), hyper-Capitalist, zero-sum, and takes up tons of ideological oxygen we should be using to advance Black women intellectuals and spiritual leaders (hello, Adrienne Maree Brown and Britney Cooper). If Patrick Bateman were a Medium writer you know he’d be kneeling at a shrine with bloody hanks of Mark Manson’s hair. And anyway, if y’all are such committed masochists, why not just pay a domme to call you a cuck loser with a bad work ethic? At least that scenario has a happy ending, unlike entertaining some fantasy that publishing an exhaustive battery of Tony Robbins-inspired power listicles will make you the next Elon Musk. …

Our artists’ bodies remember what our brains forget.

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Photo by anja. on Unsplash

You know what Lifetime, objectively the greatest channel, re-ran the other day? That Grey’s Anatomy episode where Arizona gets the phantom leg pains.

Okay, hold up. First you may need some deets on Grey’s, one of many cable TV irri-tainments I use to avoid writing. In this episode, terminally-perky-badass-military-veteran-pediatric-surgeon Arizona Robbins is experiencing nightmares and pain associated with her leg, which she lost heroically rescuing her pregnant wife Calliope from the wreckage of a downed helicopter the doctors were using to flee a catastrophic ferry boat accident. I may have conflated a few season’s worth of action here. …

Now is the time for us to show up, listen, and learn to follow.

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Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

In it, the author charges activists not to conflate one-off actions with long-term or “genuine” progress. “Let’s not confuse virtue signaling for real social change,” he wrote.

Not entirely off-base. There were some fundamental truths in his pleas for long-term planning. But, as with most guys who self-identify as Liberal but cannot abide what they call “virtue signaling,” some well-intentioned white fuckery was afoot. I could smell it like a fart in a car:

Focused, organized, peaceful protests can help create this spark [for change]. But we must go beyond the passion of the moment and keep our eyes on long-term social justice, and all of those issues that are not on our front pages today but are also important: climate change, gun violence, fake news, the opioid crisis, and all the rest.

Forget appeasement. Some people just need to be stopped.

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As most of us know by now, the Steak-umm’s social media manager has popped off this month with an open-ended exegesis on civility, critical thinking & civic responsibility in times of crisis. The quality of advice in these tweets ranges from very shrewd (e.g., “(good) data is carefully measured and collected information based on a range of subject-dependent factors, including, but not limited to, controlled variables, meta-analysis, and randomization”) to solidly centrist in tone.

A story of class, race and arts funding that hit a little too close to home for the New York Times.

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Lincoln Center Plaza, as softly and lavishly lit as the Parks’ backyard. Free pic via Pixabay.

It’s funny — maybe a little sad? or hopeful? or infuriating? — that my broke ass is the one talking to you about Bong Joon-ho’s film Parasite, class, and economic injustice in the arts industry. It’s a pretty good joke.

I’d have told it sooner, but the New York Times Op-Ed desk passed on this piece when the Oscars buzz was fresh.

Young Jean Lee got me the gig. If you’ve read Lee’s plays, you know she loves to stir the shitpot; so it was on-brand for her to turn the job down then pass the mic to an unknown outsider. …

Are we engaged in our personal and professional conversations…or faking it?

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Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash

A lot of us are better at talking than we are at listening.

I have questions about the ways that this impacts our professional and social relationships.

Good listening is a form of emotional intelligence. For years, I watched colleagues in higher ed actively throttle it. Academics in positions of power tend to validate verbose, aggressive talkers who advance the preferred agendas and rhetoric. These same professors and graduate students habitually silence non-assimilators who ask challenging questions, or whose areas of interest fall outside the boundaries of their own specializations. …

What PEA PIECE, QUESTIONNAIRE, DANCE PIECE and SWEEP PIECE tell us about the visionary “Grapefruit” author

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Photo by Stoica Ionela on Unsplash

I. Subversion of form, material, color and utility

Carry a bag of peas. Leave a pea wherever you go. (1960 winter)

It’s difficult to argue with a pea as the nexus of nature and design. As a sculptural object, it has perfect integrity of form; its color is expressive of the organic and connective, as is its communal growth in pods. It is resilient but destructible. Most vitally, a pea telegraphs two qualities integral to Yoko Ono’s creative persona as incubated by the Fluxus school: it is both small and funny. …

A commitment to intersectional justice starts with owning our own internalized race and class oppressions.

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With members of Black Belt Citizens and partners on a 2018 organizing trip to Uniontown, AL. (Author’s own photo)

Liberals, a word. We may be tempted, faced with the possibility that several states may pass horrific forced birth bills into law, to surface all we find horrific about the rural South. To use an assault on women’s constitutionally-protected freedoms as a pretext for wiki-scavenging statistics on poverty, obesity, and illiteracy as material “proof” of moral degeneracy and unfitness for parenthood in places like Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky.

We can differentiate these rants from the critical advocacy of red state community organizers and place-based cultural workers because they contain no proposed solutions; nor will we find in them an informed focus on the systemic effects of unmet basic human needs for housing, education, and sustainable foodways. The poster typically knows nothing about the place in their crosshairs. …


Amy Brooks

I write about creativity, codependency and courageous living. she/her.

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