It was a horrible week. A truly awful one, buoyed only by a surprise drop from the most iconic duo in music. That’s right I’m talking about James Kennedy’s Soundcloud remix of Countess Luann’s “Money Can’t Buy Me Class.” What a bop.
Just joshing. Obviously I’m talking about Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who gave us Everything is Love at a time when nothing feels like love. We don’t deserve them, but what would we do without them? May we never find out.
There is one story. There isn’t of course—the world is burning on many fronts. But there is only one story that involves babies being torn from parents and put into cages on American soil. Child abuse on a federal scale. It’s the story we are all watching. We are all caring. Our brains our fried from caring; the news like hot oil. Our hearts are pounded flat from the force of caring this hard. There is no other option. Keep caring.
I need to put the rest of this section in bullets because it is the only way I can handle the emotional task of summing up a week like this:
- Let’s get one thing straight: this has always been America. Racial terrorism, white supremacy, the forcible separation of families—these are America’s areas of expertise.
- An investigation by Reveal (from the Center for Investigative Reporting) and the Texas Tribune found that the federal government is placing many of these children in youth shelters with serious histories of physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and forcible drugging.
- Not surprisingly, doctors warn the actions of this administration over the past two weeks will scar thousands children for the rest of their lives.
- If their terrible sobs do not move you, you are beyond hope.
What you can do:
- There will be nationwide rallies on June 30th to protest the administration’s draconian, “zero tolerance” immigration strategy. Find yours. Show up. We need a massive turnout. I will be at the one in downtown LA.
- Here is a list of companies profiting from the detainment of children and ways to contact them directly (with sample language). This Google doc is really an invaluable resource. I recommend taking a good amount of time to digest it if you haven’t already.
- Here is a list of organizations to donate to given to me by my friend Rebecca, an immigration lawyer based in DC who’s spent time working on the Texas border.
Want to support women and POC artists & business owners in Los Angeles? Fab! You’re in the right place. Here’s a pair of projects you can donate to today to help two incredible women maintain their physical spaces in the city. Each of these unique places serves a vital role in fostering a sense of community between LA’s creative women, which is obviously a cause near and dear to me. Please help them out if you can :)
(Now, more than ever, we need to protect our safe spaces).
Junior High is a nonprofit art and community space for marginalized voices in East Hollywood run by artist, activist, Virgo, and my sometime collaborator Faye Orlove. Faye set up a membership program through Patreon to enable a more consistent funding stream for Junior High and offer *true fans* access to exclusive deals and goodies! What a treat for us, really. There are six different tiers depending on how much money you are willing to give, much as with Scientology! So give big! Be a Tom Cruise in a world of Giovanni Ribisis.
The Lev is a community bookstore in Venice focused on books by women and POC writers, with an amazing kids section as well. They have a perfectly-curated selection of gorgeous hardcovers displayed like jewels and they’re always hosting great events, from workshops to author talks to book clubs—many in partnership with the online journal Girls at Library (a Staunchly favorite). Founder Miriam Chan—another Virgo!**— needs your help to make The Lev a sustainable, long-term establishment. Please contribute if you can. Support a Shop Around the Corner in a world of Fox Books!
**I now firmly believe only Virgos should be allowed to run small businesses. Other earth signs will be considered on an individual basis.
[From here on out, I’m going to cap this section at five articles, because we all have lives! Staunchly is a labor of love but she’s still a labor. I think keeping this section right and tight will make it a bit more manageable for me. <3]
In almost every classroom in America are maps that encourage students to consider the vast world that surrounds them. Why are people so afraid of what will happen if young people are inspired to think through their own identity?
This is the question posed by writer and trans person Robyn Kanner in her excellent rebuttal to Jesse Singal’s irresponsible and transphobic Atlantic cover story on “detransitioners”—a tiny group of people in the trans community who end up regretting their gender confirmation treatment and “detransitioning.”
Singal is eager throughout his piece to stress to his readers that young people who are exploring a trans identity might not be trans. Singal notes, “Some kids are dysphoric from a very young age, but in time become comfortable with their body.” With this, Singal is attempting to provide hope to parents that their child who says they’re trans might not be. He leaves enough doubt for you to consider gatekeeping your child’s identity. This is irresponsible.
Indeed, skepticism of trans identity is baked into Singal’s piece. Why else would he write 12,000 words about people who, in essence, “beat” their gender dysphoria, when there are myriad issues facing the trans community that merit thoughtful, longform meditation.
Kanner bravely and beautifully counters Singal’s implicit claim that the real threat facing trans youth is a lack of self-knowledge, and not a society that seeks to deny their existence at every turn. “I did not detransition because I wasn’t trans,” she writes. “I detransitioned because cisgender people physically and mentally beat me down until I gave in.”
There are too many quotes in Kanner’s piece to choose from, but I want to end with the following, because it hit me straight in my gut. I spent the last few years watching a loved one resign themselves to the fate of detransitioning. Though they never doubted their trans identity, severe mental health issues, a lack of a sturdy family structure, and a world that isn’t super gentle about letting trans youth find their way, found my friend stuck in a cruel cycle of transitioning and detransitioning. For four years, I waited to see if they would find their way, hoping. They did.
Here’s Kanner again:
People have to trust that the youth who sway in the breeze of gender will land on their feet when they’re ready. Wherever that is, it’ll be beautiful.
(I’ve read that line at least 20 times now and each time it hits me like new).
In the New Yorker, Helen Rosner talks about the absurdity of enjoying the cuisine of a people you are actively working to dehumanize. As Rosner writes, for Trump supporters “there is a simple, reflexive disconnect between cultural product and cultural producer, between policy and people.” It’s that compartmentalization that allows white nationalists to enjoy nachos—to want the flavor but not the culture. In short, Kirstjen Nielsen does not get to eat Mexican food in peace when the administration she works for and department she heads is throwing Latinos in cages. Could you imagine Klaus Barbie stopping for kugel on his way to Lyon? Could you f*cking imagine? God bless the heroes that ruined her night.
I really loved this piece about how Melania, in her contrived role as advocate and intercessor on behalf of migrant children (with all the warmth and tenderness of an ice sculpture), is mirroring the behavior of a medieval queen. According to this article, queens in the Middle Ages play-acted as advocates for the less fortunate: “Women were conventionally ascribed softer hearts, and subjects were encouraged to appeal to the queen for mercy.” But the queen was still essentially powerless, the presumption of her charity a tool in the king’s arsenal, the façade of a consort’s “private intervention” providing cover should he wish to change course without seeming weak. In other words: bullsh*t.
NY Mag makes a good point about Trump’s temper tantrum at the G7, when he emptied his pocket of two Starbursts (flavors unknown), threw them on the table in the direction of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and said: “Here, Angela, don’t say I never gave you anything.” Maybe this wasn’t the fit of a crabby man-child bristling at not getting exactly what he wants. Maybe it was an act of contrition. Or just plain generosity! After all, Trump is “one of the greediest, least charitable billionaires in the world. He’s not going to give up two Starburst for nothing.” Maybe? Nah.
Now for a bit of sweet relief: the New York Times profile on the glam, rule-breaking, no-fcks-giving grandma style bloggers of Instagram. A quote from Jenny Kee, @Jennykeeoz, “a 71-year-old Australian artist and knitwear designer”:
We are not going to be little old ladies sitting in a nursing home with blue-rinsed hair...Or if we are going to be in a nursing home, we’ll be there with our marijuana, our health foods and our great sense of style.
There’s a new Staunchly t-shirt out! It says Voting is Erotic because there’s nothing sexier than suffrage! It’s $25, printed in California on sumptuous, bubblegum pink cotton, and 20% of the proceeds go to the ACLU and their fight to defend our voting rights (+ LGBT rights, immigrants’ rights, reproductive rights…really all the best rights) from the terrorism of the current administration. It’s the perfect gift for the loins-based values voter in your clique and an evergreen message for everyone in a democracy: if you don’t vote you can’t be hot!!!
Buy it here.
(Why put a sexy voting tee in this section, you might be wondering? Well, what’s a more profound act of self-care than VOTING?? Jk, I just didn’t know where else to put this, but I do really believe that!)