We Need This in Seattle – And Everywhere

I came across this remarkable way to challenge racism in our public spaces, and now I want this to be a thing in Seattle.

The Yarn Mission seeks to “use yarn to promote action and change to eradicate racism, sexism, and other systems of oppression”. The group, founded by CheyOnna Sewell, a PhD student in criminology, seeks to spark conversation about race and police brutality by engaging with curious passersby as they knit, all while providing a comforting activity for beleaguered activists.

“As a black woman, you’re invisible,” says Taylor Payne, a member of the group. “But knitting makes people stop and have a conversation with you. If someone asks me what I’m doing, I say, ‘I’m knitting for black liberation.’ Sometimes they respond and sometimes I just get ‘Oh, my grandma knits,’ like the person didn’t hear me. But at least it opens the door to talking about my experiences.”

[Read more…]

Seattle-Area Fundraiser for Fire Relief

It’s been a vicious year for fires in the northwestern United States. It seems like everything east of the Cascades is on fire up here, and we just lost three firefighters and had another few wounded when the blaze they were battling took an unexpected turn. We’re getting our asses kicked, and no mistake.

Many of us may feel helpless in the face of these infernos, but there are things we can do even if we’re not able to personally fight the fires.

If you’re in the Seattle area, Red Onion Burgers is having a fundraiser on Thursday:

Eat at Red Onion Burgers on Thursday, August 27th between 11am and 8pm and help raise money to aid those impacted by the Chelan Reach Complex / Wolverine / Black Canyon Fires.

Red Onion Burgers will be donating 100% of the cash tips, 50% of the credit card tips and 50% of the total sales. In addition, local firefighters will be present at the Albertson’s to help raise funds and collect food donations.

Money raised will go to the Community Foundation of North Central Washington whose relief fund benefits local families impacted by the fires in and around the Chelan Valley.

And there are other ways to help fire victims listed here.

I know most of the west is on fire, and likely some other countries, too, so if there are local fundraisers going on for your state/province/etc., please do let me know and I’ll add them.

Image shot at night shows a fire truck stopped with its lights on near a burning field. The red brake lights and the glowing orange flames in the darkness, illuminating roiling smoke, is eerie.

Fire crews work through the night at the Blue Creek Fire. The Blue Creek Fire located east of Walla Walla, WA began on Jul. 20, 2015 and has consumed an estimated 6,004 acres. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Image and caption courtesy USFS.

“I Am Too Busy Scratching the Ribcage of a Monster That May Never Set Me Free”

I’d like you to take two minutes to listen to this poem by Ashlee Haze. Just two minutes.

There’s a rough transcript at the bottom of this post if you’re unable to watch videos, but please do watch if you can: no typed words can capture the intensity of her voice. [Read more…]

20+ Ways to Help Trans People of Color

It’s hard, sometimes, to know what to do when you’re cisgender and you’re helplessly watching as trans woman after trans woman is murdered, the majority of them trans women of color. You want to stop it, fix it, but you feel helpless because you have no idea where to begin, how to change a culture where racism and transphobia conspire to kill. You don’t know how to alleviate the suffering. And so maybe you’re paralyzed by the enormity of it.

You’re not a god or a superhero, so you won’t be able to magically make it all better. But you can do your part to change the world. Here’s your map:

With all of this in mind in one of the most visibly bloody years we’ve witnessed of violence against trans women of color, I wanted to make a list of things you can do to begin to change the culture of violence against trans women of color into one of love, appreciation, and transformative change.

Some of these things may not be in your power to do, but many of them will. Many of them will be easier than you expect. And if we all do our bit, we can make a difference.

Don’t give up.

Image: Trans flag with white wording on it. A crown is featured at the top with the trans symbol protruding from it. Text: “Keep hope and carry on”

Image via Amigas Latinas.

Some People of Color Bernie Sanders Fans Would Do Well to Listen To

Dear Bernie Sanders Fan Who is Outraged! Offended! by the Black Women Who Interrupted Him:

You’ve been all over my Facebook timeline with a wide variety of claims. As a fellow white person, I must beg you: please stop defending Bernie for a few minutes and listen to what people of color are saying. Look, I’ve even gone to the trouble of collecting a bunch of convenient links for you. And it’s important you listen up, because you know who’s going to make Bernie lose the Democratic nomination?

You.

Yes, you.

Okay, Bernie might fail to shut up and listen himself, and torpedo his own chances, but if all of you band together to make him understand he’d best be listening or else, we won’t have to worry about that. He’ll incorporate racial justice and excellent ideas on how to achieve it into his already awesome platform, he’ll make it a centerpoint of his campaign, and we’ll all be absolutely golden. (Look! He’s already started!)

But you’re the ones who will ensure he loses, if you keep trying to shush people whose lives depend on making this old white man understand what they need from him. You’re the ones who will sow division and disharmony in the ranks. I’ll tell you a secret about people of color I’ve learned by listening to them: They don’t need us, children. We have failed them time and time and time again. We need them to win. So I’ll appeal to that need to see another Democrat in office (a need I very much share), if I can’t appeal to your innate sense of justice and your progressive wish for the downtrodden to no longer be down and trodden: if you fail to listen to these voices that are telling you and your favorite candidate exactly what they need, you are the reason Bernie Sanders will lose.

It’s within your power to ensure we all become one big, happy progressive family.

So let’s lend an ear, shall we?* Even when – especially when – people are speaking in anger, let’s listen. Let’s listen like Seattle for Bernie Sanders’s admin did, right here. [Read more…]

Learning to Shut Up and Listen

How hard is it for relatively* privileged people to just shut up and listen when people talk about the way society shits on them? I’ll be honest: Really fucking hard. And yet there’s nothing actually easier.

B and I were talking about that yesterday while we were waiting for our gyros. I’d just read a great article about why white people shouldn’t wear dredlocks, and he was all offended by the notion that white folk can’t have any hairstyle they want. Why shouldn’t they?

That knee-jerk response comes so easily to those of us near the top of the privilege heap. [Read more…]

The Supremes Got it Right! And a Timely Reminder that Elections Matter

ZOMG YOU GUYS! WE CAN GO TO ALL THE SAME-SEX WEDDINGS!!! SOME OF US CAN EVEN GET MARRIED AT THEM!!!!!!

I hope you’re satisfied, my QUILTBAG friends.

See, I’d hoped to protect you from this shit. Y’know, like, having to buy a ring, and pop the question, and choose the date, and venue, and get a cake (which we all know can go horrifically wrong, even if you’re baker loves same-sex weddings), and deal with all the family drama what with Aunt Margaret not talking to Cousin Leslie anymore, and then the humdrum ordinariness of married life, and the house, and the kids, and the bills, and the harsh reality of what “til death” and “in sickness and in health” really means. I’d thought you had a good deal, avoiding all that shit. It was kinda like back in the nineties when we thought the military wasn’t accepting pagans, and I was really glad, because I didn’t want any of my pagan friends to die in some bullshit war. I was against same-sex marriage before I was for it, because I figured you didn’t need the aggravation. But, since you wanted it so very much, I changed my mind, just like I did with my pagan friends who wanted to serve our country without having to hide who they are. And I’m getting happily drunk for you right now.

I’m still not sure why some of ya’ll want to sign up for the military when you don’t have to, but I’m old enough now to see why marriage is a big deal, and I’m just sorry it took so fucking long for our country to say, “Oh, hell. If you want it, go on, you crazy kids! Get hitched!”

Even if some of you crazy kids aren’t exactly kids, on account of having to wait so damn long. [Read more…]

You Can Save Atheist Bloggers’ Lives

You may have seen the stories about Bangladeshi bloggers hacked to death by Islamist assholes for being open about unbelief. You’ve surely heard of Raif Badawi, who is being more harshly punished for his freethought writings than another man is for raping a child. If you’re like me, you’ve watched, helplessly, as people die and there’s so very little we can do to stop it.

Now we have a chance to act. [Read more…]

Freethought is More Harshly Punished than Child Rape in Saudi Arabia #FreeRaif

A Saudi Arabian man starts a website for freethought and political debate. He’s arrested, threatened with the death penalty, tried for apostasy, and sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes. An international effort to secure his release has so far been unsuccessful.

A Saudi Arabian man suspects his five year old daughter of losing her virginity. He forces her to get an examination, then brings her home, where he repeatedly rapes her, and beats her to death with a cane and cables. He crushed her skull, broke her back, ribs and left arm, and burned her in several places. The Saudi royal family prevents him from being released after only a few months in jail and a fine, and a court eventually sentences him to 8 years in prison and 800 lashes. However, he pays her mother blood money ($270,000 – a boy would have been worth double that price), and is released after only a couple of years. [Read more…]