sysTemic160 blog

March 16, 2020

What do viral pandemics and mass-shootings have in common? The finger-crossing, hold-your-breath kind of hope beyond hope by people of color in the US that the source of the havoc, heartbreak, or health crisis has absolutely nothing to do with people of color.

The news hits: At least a half-dozen dead following a shooter’s rampage. Black, Muslim, South Asian, Native, Latino, and Arab Americans hold their breath. The collective sigh is audible following the next bit of news: The suspect is a white male.

The suspect is usually white, but statistics never seem to stem the anxiety, because people of color understand the secondary violence that would follow if he wer...

October 20, 2019

On October 10, CNN held a town hall in Los Angeles featuring several Democratic presidential candidates and dedicated entirely to issues particularly relevant to LGBTQ communities. To a question about what she would say to a self-described supporter who expressed a belief “that marriage should be between one man and one woman,” Senator Elizabeth Warren offered this read heard round the world:

“…then just marry one woman. I’m cool with that…assuming you can find one.”

After I laughed I wondered what the blowback might be. Would political operatives accuse her of glibly closing the door on a potential voter whom her party desperately needed? Would she be criticize...

September 3, 2018

This was originally published in Black Girl Dangerous on September 18, 2014

I know more than one queer person of color who has been devastated to the core to learn that a queer white person—one she hoped and mistakenly assumed would be an ally in the struggle—neither “got it” nor cared to “get it” when it came to racism and white privilege (privilege: unearned access to a bunch of good stuff and an arbitrarily granted protection from a bunch of bad stuff). I, for one, have never made this assumption of who might be an ally simply based on their own membership in an oppressed group. There’s no such thing as a “natural” ally, and here’s why:

Folks get called out o...

September 3, 2018

Originally published in Black Girl Dangerous on April 10, 2015

The concern: Indiana’s religious freedom bill would allow bigots to refuse service or public accommodation to LGBT folks and face zero legal accountability. Resistance began where one might think it would begin: with Democrats and LGBT organizations stating their opposition. But, as the bill got closer to becoming law, the “progressive” uproar grew, and corporate America entered the conversation in a really big way. canceled all programs requiring its customers or employees to travel to Indiana, the CEOs of Apple and Yelp tweeted their disappointment, and Amazon Web Services and o...

September 1, 2018

The Trump era has progressive folks twisted. Like, it used to feel more easily and simply like “us vs. them.” But, when a subset of “them” took bigotry to levels so dastardly that the rest of them were offended, things got a little more complicated. I’ve been cheering for Robert Mueller for well over a year, I find myself high-fiving the TV when Rod Rosenstein publicly stands up to pressure from the White House, and I damn near gave Meaghan McCain a standing ovation in my living room when her eulogy to her late father boldly attacked the ugliness that Trump has sown. But guess what: I’m pretty sure I won’t be planning the revolution with any of them.

Yes, they...

May 16, 2015

First published by Black Girl Dangerous on November 11, 2013


Walking down Sunset Boulevard I came across a sidewalk advertisement for a new television series – Reign: The Rise of Mary Queen of Scots. There was a time when my gut reaction to finding out about a new series of this sort would have been “Cool! Complex history through the lens of Hollywood’s creativity!” I might even have thrown in a “And this looks like it might be a move beyond the flat portrayals of women like in Cleopatra and the hyper focus on male figures like in Ben Hur.” That time was about 20 years ago. My first response now? “Really?! Another show implying history’s total whiteness?!”



May 7, 2015

First published by The Theater Offensive in 2013


The perception that people of color are a threat to safety and security often results in being not-so-inconspicuously followed in stores, watching as purses are quickly shifted from one arm to another, being “randomly” selected for extra TSA screening, or being “stopped and frisked.” There are, however, a few ways to mitigate this effect, and so I give you this list of “Must-Haves for People of Color Who are Just Trying to Get Home.” Keep one or more of these items on you at all times, and you just may increase your chances of making it all the way to your front door unfrisked, unquestioned, unpursued, unfled, a...

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