Articles of Interest, July 2018

I’m going to start doing a thing where after a month ends I’ll do a retrospective of five or six articles that I saved in my Evernote account during that month. Because sometimes I read some cool stuff, and because I think I should be averaging more than like 2 blog posts a year 🙁

So without further ado:

The only way we’re ever going to solve homelessness is by giving free housing to homeless people.

We live in a society that treats housing like something you have to “earn” by proving yourself worthy of it, and that toxic thinking has put us in a position where we’re literally willing to spend more money to have people sleeping in the streets.

I feel really sad that sometimes the most “rational” solution is one that doesn’t look nice politically, and therefore will never be implemented as well as it could be. This is kind of similar to prison reform – the fact that all politicians want to look “tough on crime” means that we will never be reducing violence in our communities as well as we can be.

With Allies Like These: Reflections on Privilege Reductionism + some further discussion

A common-place [saying] in these kinds of communities is something like, “If somebody less privileged comes to you to say that what you are doing is hurting them, you need to shut up and listen.”

But I have continuously noticed the times when this doesn’t happen. I think I first started to become conscious of it a few years back, when Chris Rock gave that interview where he said he wouldn’t do comedy on college campuses anymore because it was just too oppressive and stressful.

Not once, not one single time, did I hear anybody say, “Wow, this very politically aware, politically experienced black man is saying that the communities we are building are systematically excluding him and people like him. As allies, we should take this criticism very seriously.”

Instead, I heard people pretty much universally going, “God, I can’t believe Chris Rock inexplicably became an idiot. Thank goodness other comedians are putting this dummy in his place.”

A more modern, pertinent example maybe: in episode 2 of Riverdale when Veronica, a white girl who is literally a millionaire heiress, calls the black son of a teacher privileged 😐

The original article is very long, but if you’re someone involved in social justice communities I would say that it’s a pretty important read. The discussion I think also raises some interesting points. Reading the anecdote about Chris Rock made me realise that I was That Type of SJW. I wouldn’t have corrected course without it.

Our homes don’t need formal spaces

These spaces aren’t really designed for entertaining. They’re designed for impressing others. And not just impressing others: After all, it’s general politeness to compliment a host on their home no matter how impressive it is. The real goal, deeply embedded in these oversized, over-elaborate houses, is not for guests to say, “Oh wow, this is nice,” but to make them think, “Oh wow, this is nicer than what I have and now I feel jealous and insecure.” In true American irony, these giant “social” spaces (and McMansions in general) are birthed from a deeply antisocial sentiment: making others feel small.

Check out this sick graphic from the study linked as well:


I gotta say, this is pretty close to how activity at my parents’ house looks like. Also, this kind of looks like the layout to their home. I should maybe do more reading into classic/standard house layouts.

Philosophy Bro – Peter Singer’s Drowning Child Argument

Like, let’s say I’m on my way to a bitchin’ party and I’m looking fly as shit and I smell good because you already know, and I’ve got a 30-rack of Natty because I’ll be goddamned if I show up empty-handed to the house I’m about to burn down. Once I get over this bridge, and turn the corner I’ve arrived and so has the party. Except I hear a bunch of splashing and I look over the bridge into the river and – fuck me – there’s a kid flailing around and calling for help, like he’s drowning for some reason instead of handling his shit like an adult.

Yeah I just discovered philosophy bro and I gotta say he’s doing god’s work. I think that a lot of good can come from making philosophy accessible to people at all levels of education, and philosophy bro makes it fun and engaging besides. If you have the time I highly recommend browsing around his site.

This twitter thread about the internet that I grew up with + the article it references

I can tell you that a tremendous number of people, a really ghastly number, spent the entirety of their teen years not going more than a few minutes without saying or hearing “kill” directed broadly at a group of people. I was in that group.

that is to say, i was in the set of people who constantly talked about killing people

that’s how we talked about everything. it was the go-to. virtually any described offense was met with the response that we should kill an entire group of people. the homeless, POC, gay people, trans people, nothing garnered more than a second or two of thought

anyone, absolutely anyone the least bit different than us – mediocre white teens – needed to be killed. It’s still how people talk on 4 c h a n, a time capsule permanently frozen in 2006 with all its members permanently frozen at age 20.

I think a large part of growing up, and getting a good education, is realizing that the culture around you as a kid was shit. It doesn’t stop you from loving and missing it. The person I am today was shaped by the internet of the 00s. An internet where anyone can be a mediocre white teen, even small Chinese girls. 

On Toronto Police at Pride

So. Speaking as someone who identifies as queer (NOT that this should matter because purity politics are the worst), I think Pride Toronto’s decision to ban policemen in uniforms from pride this year is pretty gross.

I can’t believe that after all the outcry about Rob Ford not going to pride, we’re sticking up our noses at the thought of the establishment showing their support for us. I don’t understand how dialogues and reparations can even begin if one side refuses to even be in the same space as the other. Common ground is absolutely essential for building rapport, and we’re destroying what little we have.

And if you believe that all policemen live in insular, hate-filled bubbles, why would you want to deny them a chance to leave it? And if you think that the awful relationship that police have historically had with the queer community justifies banning them, why doesn’t this argument extend to mayors and prime ministers?

Regarding queer people who have had a bad experience with policemen and feel genuine fear at having to be near them, I absolutely empathize. They’ve constantly turned a blind eye to our pain, and punished us disproportionately through the over-surveillance of places that we gather.

And if it was any other city, I would think that that’s a pretty big deal. But look, Toronto is really, fantastically, gay. The pride parade isn’t your only option during pride month, to celebrate being you. There’s dozens of really cool smaller events going on through the month, those that aren’t as corporate and visible as the parade. I encourage you to go to them, even if you don’t specifically need a safe space away from cops. But policemen had one event that they had to go to and participate in. That number is now zero. This isn’t progress.

I remember the world being amazed at the wonderful photos of our rainbow-decked police force every summer, a symbol of Canada’s real, amazing progressiveness. As a young person coming to terms with my queerness, it meant the world to me that my country and my institutions would support me, even if my family wouldn’t.

The thought that these photos won’t happen this year breaks my heart. I don’t like the messages that this sends – that police and uniforms aren’t to be trusted by the queer community*, and that the queer community is picky and difficult to work with (in the case of any organization or institution that was thinking of helping us).

If you agree with me, help me make a difference. Take a moment out of your day and jot out a tweet or shoot a Facebook message at Pride Toronto. give arguments, let them know that the people against this decision aren’t just racists and Facebook trolls. pride’s still a while away, i’m sure we can change this if we put our minds to it.

*Ok look, this is true. I don’t want to make any excuses for the gross negligence that is the way the Toronto Police Force treats the queer (and other minority) communities. But I don’t think the answer lies in a withdrawal from their services.

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