Apparently Standing While Black is a Problem. Plus: Help Our Tony if You Can!

Another day, another black man being roughed up by police for existing while black. Tony tells us the story, and he’s got some great questions at the end for those white folks who are all, “Don’t do anything wrong and you won’t have to worry!”

They say if we follow those easy to remember rules, then we won’t face extreme violence from police officers. Well, what handy-dandy tips do they have for us when we’re engaged in the same activities that everyone else does in the course of a day? When you’re minding your own business in public, where you have the right to be, and you’re walking, which you have the right to do, and you’re attacked by cops who think you look like this *other* black person they’re looking for and don’t even bother to ensure they have the right suspect? How do we avoid that? I mean since we’re talking about the steps white people think black people need to take to avoid cops choosing to use excessive force on us. Heaven forbid we talk about cops modifying their behavior so that they don’t brutalize black folk.

And, y’know, white folk who think black folk bring police violence on themselves: encouraging cops to use maximum force in every confrontation in which they feel the least bit uncomfy, or in which they want to assert their authority over a potential “thug” (y’know, someone not wearing a tailored suit and who happens to be an older straight white cis dude), or in which they feel disrespected, or in which they encountered the person they wished to talk to while they were having a bad day, or in which they had a shiny new baton or taser or gun, or… well, I shouldn’t have to continue painting you pictures, now, should I? If you encourage the cops to use force rather than non-violent, non-confrontational techniques to approach people they wish to talk to who are darker-hued, they’re going to start using those techniques on lighter and lighter people, until everyone is subject to unreasonable force by a militarized and highly belligerent gang of assholes with a badge and a taste for blood.

Well, my gosh, that’s actually already happening, isn’t it?

We are going to have to stop telling people of color how perfect they must be in order to survive an encounter with police unmolested, and start a revolution in policing. We need to take the military toys away from our cops, fire the racists and bigots and misogynists, fire the ones who put on the badge and the gun for the rush they get from their power, and train the remaining cops how to serve the public. We need a universal ethos of protect and serve. Not “protect and serve the rich white guys while fucking over the poor and the dark.” Not “protect our own police lives at all costs, even if that means taking the lives of an endless stream of unarmed people, and roughing up the ones we don’t kill.” We need police to value the lives of everyone in the community – yes, even the criminal ones. We need to imbue our police with a social service mentality rather than a siege one. Of course there will be times when they must use force, but that should be the last resort, not the first – and for any cops who think otherwise, we must be willing to kick them out of our police forces.

Otherwise, we will continue to see the use of force escalate, until no matter how rich you are, how famous, how talented, how innocently standing still doing absolutely nothing wrong, we will be at risk of assault or death at any moment from a police force that thinks of us all as vermin. Black folk already know what that regime is like. Ask them what sort of quality of life it offers.

Image is a red triangle with a yellow interior. A police officer in silhouette raises his baton to hit two beseeching black hands. At the bottom are the words "STOP POLICE BRUTALITY"

Public domain image modified by moi. Feel free to use.


Tony is still looking for work, and could use help if you’ve got it to give. He just needs to raise $290 to make it through this month. If you’ve got a little to spare and would like to support his excellent blogging, you can donate here. If you’re in the market for mint-condition comics and DVDs, he’s also got an Ebay store where you can find some very sweet stuff. If you haven’t any filthy lucre to spare, signal boosting this request will help, too. Thank you, my darlings!

Help Me Make My Mount St. Helens Guidebooks More Inclusive!

I’m trying to make my Mount St.Helens guides fairly inclusive. But of course I’m a cis white able-bodied childless person, so there are things that it wouldn’t even occur to me to take into account.
So I’m asking for your help. What sorts of things do you need information on? What should I be on the lookout for? When it comes to accessibility, accommodating kids, whatever, how can I help you have a better experience?

I’ve done things like look for kid-friendly hikes and activities, wheelchair-accessible adventures, short hikes for folks with mobility issues, that sort of stuff, but I’m sure I’m overlooking the fine details that would really help people, and I haven’t even begun to consider what folks with sensory, neurological, and other issues may need. I can’t make this guide perfect, of course, but I’d like it to be much better than anything else currently out there. So if you can, please weigh in, and let me know what you need.

Thank you all so much!

Image is a slightly expanded crop of me with Mount St. Helens from May 2007. Caption reads, "Yes, I am indeed writing a Mount St. Helens book!"

For serious, folks, I am.

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.

Tony Needs Your Help! Please Donate if You Can

Tony, who’s one of the best writers I know on the subjects of racism, gun violence, queer topics, and comics, is going through one of those extended dry spells where he can’t find employment no matter how hard he tries. As if that weren’t enough, he just had an emergency with his 15 year-old kitty that resulted in a substantial vet bill. His kitty didn’t make it. So he’s got grief on top of joblessness and bills to worry about. If you read his blog, partake in the Pharyngula thread he and RQ curate, or follow him on Facebook, you know he’s working his ass off to bring us solid content every day. Unfortunately, blogging doesn’t pay the bills. Any of my readers who can spare some cash would be doing him a solid by dropping some coinage in his tip jar. Thank you so much for your help, my darlings!

Image shows a very handsome man with penetrating dark eyes and a regal bald dome.

Tony! Y’all might know him as the Queer Shoop. He is one of the most awesome human beings I know.


Can You Spread the Word? Misha and I Need a Home!

I’ve been scarce because I’ve been desperately trying to find a place for Misha and I to move to. Every lead so far has dried up. It’s hard to find housing round here on short notice when your income is variable! It doesn’t matter what your rental history is, or how much you’ve got in the bank.

I’ve swallowed my pride and posted an ad on Craigslist. Please help us out, and spread that link as far and wide as you can. Even if you’re not in the area, someone reading your feed may be. Every share helps!

If you know of a place Misha and I can stay, either a forever home or a place we can crash while looking, please let us know. We’d be forever grateful!

Thank you for your help again, my darlings! I’ll be back to blogging on the regular as soon as things are more settled.

Image shows Me and Misha together. Misha has her little head on me shoulder.

The lady and the kitty who need a happy home.

Please Help Dana Avoid Becoming Homeless

I knew I was taking risks when I quit my job and pursued writing full time. Blogging doesn’t pay much, and getting books written and published takes time. I knew a year probably wouldn’t be enough to become self-sufficient, but would give me time to get things going. Then I could get a part-time job at the end of my year to make up any shortfalls, and wouldn’t have to go begging money from my readers. I’d have a book or two out, and have more started, and probably wouldn’t have to do the day job thing forever. Simple!

My plans were disrupted a bit last fall, when I came within spitting distance of dying from sepsis. It took a while to recover, and my funds took a hit. But I still had things under control. I struggled with the typical winter-spring depression, but kept plugging away at the writing, and got me first book released. Everything was going fine – until my apartment complex decided not to renew my lease.

They’re kicking me out so they can remodel. I asked for more time, and got until the end of this month. Then I’m sans home.

Moving into another unit here would be prohibitively expensive. It’s not going to be possible to find another apartment without a steady income considerably larger than the present unstable one. So I’m currently job hunting (if you’ve been wanting desperately to hire me, thinking I’d be a perfect fit for your Seattle-area company, now’s the time!). But I won’t have a job soon enough to save up the extra funds I’ll need for a move. I won’t be able to find an apartment quickly enough, either. B’s house doesn’t have room for me to move in, and it’s not possible for him to abandon his brothers.

So I need your help pretty badly. [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…]

Crowdsourcing Sociological Research on Race and Ethnicity

Anne Fennewick would like a post exploring some of the sociological research we have on race and how it impacts activities like applying for jobs and policing:

I hope some of the posts will look at strategies for overcoming these problems temporarily or permanently. For example, what happens when we anonymize all or part of the application process, and why don’t we, given how easy it would be? Do some police forces do better than others and if so, why? Do black/Hispanic police do better than white police? If so, can we capitalize on that? What social factors are associated with racial prejudice and under what circumstances are they diminished? It would be nice to start taking the sociological research more seriously – we might even end up with better sociological research!

I think this is a fabulous idea, but damn it, Anne, I’m a geologist, not a sociologist. Happily, I’m blogging on a network with lots of bloggers and commenters who know all about sociological studies, and often have many good ones right at their fingertips. So, my darlings, I beg of you: link me those studies, and blog posts about those studies! Send me pdfs, even! You can leave links in the comments, or email me at dhunterauthor at gmail.

I’d also love links to recommended sites discussing race and racism at various levels, from 101 on up. While you’re at it, point me at your favorite books, documentaries, and other resources. I can create a page here with everything gathered in one place. [Read more…]

Anybody Got Studies on Water Emissions from Volcanoes?

As I’m slowly working my way through these awful Christianist textbooks, I keep running across claims that volcanoes emit lotsa water. They’re very excited about volcanoes and water. When it comes to their BS about volcanoes creating a lot of the Flood water, I think the outrageous heat and acid issues dispose of that nonsense without needing to go in to just how much water is freed from erupting magma.

But there’s another bit I want to deal directly with, and that’s the claim that a lot of the water in a crater lake is from magma. My Google-fu has failed me in this case, and so I turn to you, my geos, for halp: Does anyone have a study that shows proportions of magmatic versus meteoric water in crater lakes? That would be most helpful!

Image shows me leaning against a log fence with Crater Lake in the background.

Moi at Crater Lake. “Creationists Keep Out!”

Help Me Decide Upon a New Computing Machine

I have decided that, even if the maclargehuge HP laptop could be resurrected, it’s time I got a desktop anyway. A laptop can’t give me the computing power I need going forward in mah bidness. I need something that can handle streaming movies or music whilst also running Photoshop or Corel. I need something that doesn’t mind me having twelve gajillion tabs open while all that’s going on. And the computer repair dude I chatted up at Staples told me that if I want a Windows 7 machine, I’d better act now, because they soon won’t be an option. I do I DO want my Windows 7. I bloody hate Windows 8 with a burning and enduring passion, but I loves my Windows 71. [Read more…]