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Associated Press Images

Most of us did not need last week’s domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol to know that white supremacy is an emergency. What is perhaps less considered more of the time is the fact that white supremacy is an emergency for all of us, especially white people. White supremacy is obviously directly damaging and hurtful to BIPOC because it attempts to erase us and render our lives inferior and insignificant. …


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A new addition to the pack.

A new puppy is an extraordinary teacher, especially for these times. I’ve recently been claimed by a little one, which I’ll get to, and that’s made me think about having been a somewhat reluctant pet owner at various stages of my life.

As a child, I moved far too much with my mother for us to have a pet for long, but that didn’t keep me from trying to rescue stray kittens I found on the street. I remember those strays as mangy but cute, frightened and brave. …


This is the story of staying home without going outside except for necessities for most of 2012. There’s a section of my memoir, The Beautiful Darkness: A Handbook for Orphans (2016), where I talk about self-isolating voluntarily to deal with grief. A couple of writers have mentioned this might be helpful for others as we all have to deal now with spending a good deal more time indoors, to stay safe and keep one another healthy. Understanding that everyone will experience this time differently and with various complications, I hope that it is valuable for you.

“The very first thing I did was put dozens of plants in the ground. This was immediately soothing. With a friend who had recently lost her brother to a heroin overdose, I wandered the oasis of a local nursery, in the middle of a weekday, marveling at roosters and hens, donkeys and goats.I bought trailing lantana, a bunch of Texas sweet onions, two kinds of mint and a few floral-looking bunches of lettuce.” — The Beautiful Darkness: A Handbook for…


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One view from my window (Joshunda Sanders)

“Stay safe,” the white man who is new to my South Bronx neighborhood said to me. He works at a restaurant nearby which had the definition of bad timing by opening up right as the pandemic paused New York State to a standstill. When he said it, I muttered something back, something like, “You, too.” But the weird feeling lingered all day, into the coming weeks, all the days shaped like one endless year.

I cannot remember a time during my entire life when someone has wished me safety, certainly not a white man who probably does not live here, and quite possibly lives in a nearby suburb. …


A Black woman writes with a pen in a notebook at a desk
A Black woman writes with a pen in a notebook at a desk
Photo by Retha Ferguson via Pexels

I came to writing through fear. A recurring feature of my childhood was going without the basic necessities we need, especially as children, to make us feel safe: food, attention and shelter. What many people are experiencing as we shelter in place, and worry about what the unknown, infinite-possibility-laden future holds, I taught myself to tame 30 years ago when I first put pen to looseleaf paper to move my anxiety and despair out of my body and onto paper. Here are a few ways to begin and/or consider:

Write with paper & pen, preferably: Get a writing instrument of your choice. Pen & paper are preferable to me and especially in this case, because they cut down on distractions and the inherent distance between you and the emotions created by your words. Fear, in particular, is a bully, and if you don’t sit with it and stare it down, it comes back to taunt you more and for longer. If you most want to use your phone or laptop instead, be sure to set yourself up for success by using it in a mode with the least possibility of distraction (e.g., Airplane mode for your phone, utilizing the Compose feature in a Word document, etc.) …


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I almost didn’t see Harriet in theaters, and that would have been a mistake. The film is inspirational, perhaps especially moving in these times — a reminder that even when you can’t see your way out of oppression of any kind, there is still, in fact, a way out.

There are also, in some corners of the Internet and beyond, compelling and true statements about the way that Black American actors are passed over in favor of Black actors from other parts of the African Diaspora. …


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@burst via Nappy.co

The irony of the worst workday of my life is that I never made it into the office.

At the time, I was working as a speechwriter for a health agency headquartered in Rockville, Maryland. On paper, my job and career trajectory looked amazing — in the span of two years following the deaths of both of my parents, I had transitioned from working in newspapers for eleven years to a series of communications roles in Austin, freelancing full-time in Texas then in Washington D.C., …


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I know most people remember Anthony Bourdain as a bad ass, world-traveling accidental journalist, but I had a different relationship to his celebrity.

I knew he was a fellow Vassar alum, though he left the school on not-quite-friendly terms. I read this 2017 New Yorker profile of him that landed Kitchen Confidential on my TBR list, but I never got around to it, since I feel like I learned most of what I needed to know about how amazing he was from reading that profile.

I mean, this description alone:

“Bourdain, who is sixty, is imposingly tall — six feet four — and impossibly lean, with a monumental head, a caramel tan, and carefully groomed gray hair. He once described his body as “gristly, tendony,” as if it were an inferior cut of beef, and a recent devotion to Brazilian jujitsu has left his limbs and his torso laced with ropy muscles. With his Sex Pistols T-shirt and his sensualist credo, there is something of the aging rocker about him. But if you spend any time with Bourdain you realize that he is controlled to the point of neurosis: clean, organized, disciplined, courteous, systematic. …


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Spoilers follow! Don’t be mad if you haven’t seen the movie and you read this!

I went to see Jordan Peele’s previous foray into inclusive horror, “Get Out,” twice in theaters and I watched the version with the alternative ending with my sister at home. I thought about that experience with his work and what he had done before going to see “Us” last weekend with a predominately Black audience for a few reasons.

I prefer psychological thrillers and horror to blood and guts — but all of it freaks me out, honestly. Still, I love that Peele’s brilliance extends a tradition of Black filmmakers “defying odds” by setting box office records (I can almost see ignorant Hollywood executives exclaiming, “First Black Panther, now this?!”) and I appreciate especially the commitment to centering dark-skinned and brown-skinned Black-looking people as regular Americans who are as flawed and ordinary or extraordinary as any other person, which brings us to “Us.” …


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Photo Credit: Library of Congress | University of Texas at Austin Library Collection

My loves,

One of the greatest Black women poets of our time, Lucille Clifton, is not frequently taught in schools — or at least not taught enough. Her poem, song at midnight, contains a line you may have seen on the internet, in part. We like to circulate it among ourselves as a clarion call, a prayer, a balm & mantra, especially the last lines, but here is the second part of it, from The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965–2010, edited by Kevin Young and Michael S. Glaser:

born into babylon

both nonwhite and woman

what did i see to be except myself? …

About

Joshunda Sanders

Writer, Journalist & Educator. Author of I Can Write The World & a few other books. joshundasanders.com

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