The Mayor-for-Life, At Least

Marion Barry, RIP.Look, Barry started out as a civil-rights organizer throwing block parties in the hood, and ended as an advocate for people coming out of prison. In between he presided over a decade and a half in which DC suffered disproportionately from the violence which swept through all US cities in the '80s and '90s. I know it started before we even had "home rule" (ish) and everybody else's city also suffered and hey, at least he didn't declare a state of emergency and try to call … [Read more...]

“The Gift Shop of the Dead”: I Visit the Museum of Crime and Punishment

for AmSpec: For the past twelve years I’ve volunteered at a crisis pregnancy center serving mainly low-income women in the District of Columbia, and I’ve noticed something about how our clients talk: Nobody ever says “prison.” Boyfriends, husbands, fathers, sons were never “locked up,” “in jail,” or “serving time”; they were always “incarcerated.” There is an unexpected poignancy to the bureaucratic term—a lacy Latinate word suffused with so much pain, as if standardization and abstraction coul … [Read more...]

AltFem Magazine Launch Party: I’m There! Tomorrow!

I'm on the first panel at this conference/party to launch "an online magazine that seeks an inclusive definition of feminism that resonates with women of faith." Uh, I'm not actually a feminist, but I hope to talk about the problems with the concept of "empowerment" as a goal--basically riffing on the issues I raised in this book review. Hope to see many of you there! … [Read more...]

“United Sweets of America”: Slate

makes an important contribution to national comity:Alabama Lane cake Also known as Alabama Lane cake, Lane cake is one of those boozy, eggy, dried-fruit-filled confections we don’t eat enough of these days. Invented by Emma Rylander Lane in the 1890s, a Lane cake is a sponge cake layered with a raisin-bourbon filling and frosted with a marshmallow-y “boiled white frosting.” Lane cake is also to Harper Lee what the madeleine is to Marcel Proust: The baked good makes several appearances in th … [Read more...]

Friday Link Round-Up: The Road to Ferguson, And Some Paths Away

Hey it's my birthday, let's have some fun! This is a very, very scattershot link round-up. Mostly snagged from people I follow on Twitter and you should too.Walter Olson, "Petty Offenses and Police-Community Relations in Ferguson": It seems so random and meaningless that a legal offense as minor as walking on the roadway would set in motion what was to prove the fatal confrontation between officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown. But in the wider scheme of how Ferguson came to have its … [Read more...]

Organizing Anguish: DC’s #NMOS14

Last night DC residents gathered at Malcolm X Park (Meridian Hill Park) for a vigil to honor the memory of those killed by police. My own strongest impression was how raw everything was. This was an outpouring of pain.Various people had various proposed solutions--the Socialist Workers were there, doing what they do best, i.e. holding up well-designed signs ("END MASS INCARCERATION, THE NEW JIM CROW"), and there were some other groups at various points along the spectrum of plausibility. But … [Read more...]

I’ll Be at DC’s Moment of Silence to End Police Brutality TONIGHT

7 pm, Malcolm X Park, people will be wearing red armbands apparently. Hope to see many of you there. Here's the Facebook page with info for DC. Here's a roundup of events nationwide.Some links btw: Surrender as protest."[N]o one can--or should have to be--'respectable' all of the time." See also Timothy P. Carney, "None of us scrupulously obeys the law. Technically speaking, we're all criminals." (If you're the wrong color or the wrong class, that "technically" gets a lot less … [Read more...]


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