Welcome to Issue 24.3 of Digestable, your daily mouthful of real things happening in the world, minus alarmist pandemic news.
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Today’s news, fermented:
There is so much discussion of what we have to fix or change about our systems of power. Many must be dismantled and re-formed to not rely on externalities: cops killing Black people, emergency aid programs inaccessible by poor people, schools that can’t effectively teach their students.
It seems that we have gotten stuck on the fixing stage—unsurprising in a country where we have little practice fixing what needs to be fixed, and a long history of helping white people at the expense of everything else.
Recently, I encountered examples of this phenomenon.
The first: defunding school police presence. While the term ‘school-to-prison pipeline’ is tossed around, some of the people on the ground who make that happen go unidentified. School ‘safety’ officers, who are often full-blown cops, can be the reason for a young person of color’s first interaction with the criminal punishment system.*
So school safety officers, and public school districts’ contracts with them, have come under public scrutiny amid conversations about defunding the police. This framing marks a paradigm shift in how people—namely, taxpayers—conceive of public budgets. The logic I have heard, again and again, is that taxpayers are finally realizing that public money, the same money that funds police who kill us and services that don’t serve us, is our money.
There is a lot to say about the benefits of resources funded by the people and for the people, from the USPS to public libraries to mutual aid efforts. I was raised by people who worked for New York City; this instilled in me a great faith in public and civil services. But only if they work—which the police clearly do not, if our intent is to serve the people who pay for this ‘protection.’
Which brings us back to school safety officers. This article, There’s a Movement to Defund School Police, Too, chronicles the ways in which efforts to get cops out of public schools have stalled. In Portland, the mayor has agreed to invest the former school cop budget into ‘community driven’ programs. This is a thing electeds like to say; time will tell if it is for real.
Other than that one example, it appears that many schools are hiring private ‘safety officers,’ who are often ex-cops or trained by local police departments. Is this better? Well, those people are still getting paid for with public money (but from the schools budget, not the law enforcement one), and are not necessarily subject to the same (crap but existing) accountability/oversight of police. Is it a step in the right direction? Maybe.
The other example of our stalling pre-fix is explored at length by ProPublica in Black Workers Are More Likely to Be Unemployed but Less Likely to Get Unemployment Benefits. Go look at those charts, and read those words. Call up all the people in your life who don’t believe this country was built on white supremacy and tell them what’s up.
What does it mean for us that we can start this work of dismantling violent and troubled systems, but not follow through?
“I used to operate from a place of how to get people in. Now I realize our job is not to bring in one person but to make revolution irresistible. We’re building a belief system—a world outside the colonial imagination. Whiteness is built on exclusion, so Blackness must be built on something else.
Let us not sink in complacency like this gator, and rather do as Khan suggests.
Brought to you by the superb Latifah Azlan.
I have not been watching the Republican National Convention (RNC). I have far better things to do than be gaslighted for two hours every night for the next four nights. And have you seen the lineup of speakers? A couple from Missouri who tasted three minutes of fame for barging out of their McMansion to point guns at Black Lives Matter protestors? Some 18-year-old kid who was national news for a couple of days for squaring up against a Native American elder? The entire Tr*mp family? I’d rather chisel my ears off.
But it’s convention season, which means I can’t escape news of what’s going on at these events, no matter how hard I try. And that’s how I came across this extremely unhinged video of Kimberly Guilfoyle screaming her speech for the RNC as if she was in an actual arena.
It’s truly one of the most psychotic things I’ve ever seen in my entire life, but in the most hilarious way. Obviously, due to the coronavirus pandemic, all large-scale gatherings have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. So it was with the national conventions of both the Democrat and Republican parties of the United States of America – two events that happen once every four years, during an election year, in which both political parties host and go on to formally nominate their presidential candidates for the election.
This year, the conventions were held virtually. I didn’t watch the Democratic National Convention (DNC) either, but of course read lots of coverage of the event and came across videos and clips of different speakers. Whoever planned the DNC this year deserves a hefty bonus. I’m not one for political conventions of this sort, but at least the Democratic party found a way to translate a large-scale, in person arena event into something appropriate for these quarantined times. Beautiful visuals, creative video concepts, performances – engaging at the very least, and something you wouldn’t mind watching for a couple of hours.
The RNC on the other hand? Again, just watch Kimberly Guilfoyle – speaking for no other reason than her status as D*nald Tr*mp Jr’s girlfriend – in that tweet. Can you imagine sitting in front of your television or laptop to hear this batty chick with her dry extensions scream at you for 10 minutes? And it wasn’t just that last final stretch of the speech that she yelled, it was the ENTIRE THING.
My favorite part of this performance, however, is how flatly that final proclamation falls against the hokey swelling music, accentuated by Kimberly’s robotic power stance. It reminds me of my Sims standing static in one place after having a freak out over a burning stove. Also, I am just slightly so creeped out by how only the lower half of this bitch’s face animates when she speaks. Her forehead doesn’t crease or contort, the corners of her eyes don’t turn upwards or downwards, her nose doesn’t crinkle – it’s just her lower jaw doing all the heavy lifting here and it’s extremely unsettling.
I’ve really gone in on all the political ~*Hot Goss*~ this week, but truly so much mess is happening that I couldn’t just keep it to myself. I’ll try to keep it spicier tomorrow and Friday. Claudia Conway, can you start tweeting again please?