The Biskeptical Podcast #51: #FamiliesBelongTogether

On today’s episode, we’ll talk about everything going on with the border crisis. We’ll go over the facts about zero tolerance, how the Trump administration justifies it with religion, and, yes, the jacket.

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Marginalized People Are Not Responsible For Ending Our Own Oppression — My Latest for HuffPost

In the months since Donald Trump was elected president, pundits have been endlessly trying to figure out how we got into this mess (and how we can get out). Many suggest that ideological echo chambers — from all across the political spectrum — helped create our current political divide. With the recent incidents of Sarah Huckabee Sanders being asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant and Kirstjen Nielsen being heckled while dining out, many have called for civility in our political discourse and for people to talk to those who disagree with them. Only then, pundits say, can we escape the pitfalls of motivated reasoning and tribalism.

In a 2016 study, three social scientists found that Facebook users shared articles that reaffirmed their personal narratives even when the articles were fake, and they doubled down when shown evidence that contradicted their worldviews. Brian Resnick of Vox refers to this psychological phenomenon as “motivated reasoning” and explains how two people with different points of view can look at the same piece of empirical data and come up with two completely different interpretations.

While there is no guaranteed magic formula to make a person completely unbiased, most experts agree that being skeptical about one’s beliefs and deliberately reading different points of view can help people see things from another’s perspective. I agree to an extent. I am a hard-left-leaning progressive bisexual nonbinary transgender person, but I read articles by Bari Weiss and Conor Friedersdorf — both of whom are to the right of me on many issues — just in case they might be right about something.

However, there are those who say reading articles isn’t enough. Some, like YouTube talk show host Dave Rubin, say that the only way to break out from an echo chamber is to have a civil conversation with someone who disagrees with you on everything. It sounds good on paper, but for many people, there’s a risk of exposing ourselves to vicious personal attacks on our humanity. What is meant to be an honest discussion about social justice can quickly turn into another example of the onus being put on marginalized people to end our own oppression.

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And this should be the last update for the day. Some days everything gets published at once.

Why Leslie Feinberg Still Matters — My Latest for Splice Today

Cloistered in The New York Times this past weekend was a tribute to the late trans activist Leslie Feinberg’s 1993 novel Stone Butch Blues. Headlined “The Best Book for 2018 Is 25 Years Old,” writer Kaitlyn Greenidge begins by confessing that she finally got around to reading the novel this past February. It was there that Greenidge found a powerful story that asks the same questions we’re asking in 2018: “How do you effectively organize across racial lines? How do you address the generational divides in your community? How do you fight sexism in your workplace, knowing you’re going to have to eat with your foes and band with them later for fair working conditions?”

The novel follows Jess Goldberg, who always felt like an outsider growing up in a working-class update New York neighborhood. “I didn’t want to be different,” she says. “I longed to be everything grownups wanted, so they would love me. I followed all their rules, tried my best to please. But there was something about me that made them knit their eyebrows and frown. No one ever offered a name for what was wrong with me. That’s what made me afraid it was really bad. I only came to recognize its melody through this constant refrain: ‘Is that a boy or a girl?’”

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Bi Any Means Podcast #156: She Talks Atheism with Bethany Futrell

My guest for today is Bethany Futrell. She is the co-host of the Inciting Incident Podcast with Marissa McCool, and is the host of the She Talks Atheism podcast. We’re wrapping up our Pride Month series highlighting LGBTQ podcasters by getting to know Bethany and all that she does.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #155: TransPunkRockGirl with Stevi Faithless

My guest for today is Stevi Faithless, host of the brand new podcast TransPunkRockGirl. Continuing my Pride Month theme of highlighting fellow LGBTQ podcasters, today I have her on the show to talk about her life and her show.

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The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson — My Latest for Splice Today

There would be no LGBTQ movement without Marsha P. Johnson. Together with Sylvia Rivera, she fought against the cops during the Stonewall riot, founded the Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries (STAR) to keep trans people off the streets, and was a prominent AIDS activist. The NYPD ruled her 1992 death as a suicide, but everyone who knew her suspected she was murdered. Her case was never solved, but fellow trans activist Victoria Cruz investigated it herself in the 2017 Netflix documentary The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson.

Directed by David France, the film opens with archival footage of the memorial walk for Johnson down Christopher St. in New York City shortly after her body was found in the Hudson River, and then switches to the present day where Cruz and several other activists with the Anti-Violence Project (AVP) discuss the death of 21-year-old Brooklyn trans woman Islan Nettles. Cruz is about to retire after working with the AVP since 1997, but not until she finds out what happened to Johnson first. The film follows Cruz as she talks to Johnson’s siblings, her former roommate Randy Wicker, several other LGBTQ activists who knew Johnson, and retired detectives gathering whatever information she can get ahold of that would provide some closure.

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The Biskeptical Podcast #50: More Like Disasterpiece Cakeshop

Today on the show, we talk about last week’s SCOTUS ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, find out what exactly happened, and what it might mean for future civil rights cases. We also talk about the North Korea summit, all the wackiness that went down, and whether or not any progress will be made.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #154: The Interesting Life of Priss

My guest for today is Priss, host of the podcast The Interesting Life of Priss. Continuing my Pride Month theme of highlighting fellow LGBTQ podcasters, today I have Priss on the show to talk about her life and her show.

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I Wish I Had Learned LGBTQ History In School — My Latest for HuffPost

Growing up, I was fortunate to learn about the rich history of men and women who made a difference in the world throughout the centuries. My school made sure to teach us about extraordinary women like Sally Ride, Florence Nightingale and Eleanor Roosevelt. I lived in Prince George’s County, a predominantly black area of Maryland, so I was lucky to learn about inspiring figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Sojourner Truth and more in my formative years.

Unfortunately in the 1990s, when I grew up, American society was just starting to get the message that being gay was OK, so none of my teachers acknowledged LGBTQ history. It wasn’t until I was 16 years old, working part time at a public library and doing my own research that I found out writers like Langston Hughes, Walt Whitman and James Baldwin were gay. I had learned much about them in my English classes, but I guess my teachers decided to skip that detail.

LGBTQ people have existed throughout history and made tremendous contributions to American culture, yet no one talked about them in school, and there were hardly any books available highlighting the brave queer and trans people who paved the way for the rest of us. If I had known about them, I might not have suffered through years of alienation, confusion and self-hatred. I would have learned to love and embrace my true self sooner.

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Will the Blue Wave Hit Maryland? — My Latest for Splice Today

The only good thing that’s come from the Trump administration is that progressives are inspired to get more involved in politics. From Indivisible groups to progressives running for office, many on the left sense a “blue wave” will sweep across the nation in this year’s elections, and take back both the Senate and House from the current Republican majority. Maryland is generally a blue state, but given that Republicans Gov. Larry Hogan and 1st District Rep. Andy Harris both have the fate of their respective seats in the hands of voters this November, many wonder if the blue wave will hit Maryland next.

Both Hogan and Harris have plenty of competition. Six Democrats hope to replace Harris’ seat in Congress: Michael Brown, Jesse Colvin, Allison Galbraith, Erik Lane, Michael Pullen, and Steve Worton. Galbraith was the first to announce her candidacy after the presidential election. As a single mother who also owns a small business, she finally got the chance to meet him and talk about his vocal opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). When she asked Harris whether or not he’s opposed to rising health care costs for women, he replied, “I don’t think most people would mind if women paid a little more for health insurance.” Healthcare is a major focus in Galbraith’s campaign.

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