Hey, White Women – We DID Vote For Trump!

Like many others, this past weekend I went to the Women’s March on Washington. During the two months of Facebook discussion leading up to the march, I watched as white feminists were introduced to intersectional feminism for the first time. I wasn’t sure how white feminism and intersectionality were going to mesh, but I think that the now viral “White Women Voted for Trump” sign carried around by Angela Peoples was perfect.

In an interview with The Root, Peoples described the response to her sign: “Most [people] were saying ‘Not this white woman,’ or ‘No one I know!'” And it was at that point anger and frustration bubbled up inside me, to the point that I had to take a break from reading for a minute.

“Not this white woman” and “no one I know” are such bullshit things to say. People were bussed in from all over the country to come this event! I live in the blue af DC metro area, and I know dozens of white women that voted for Trump. If no one you know voted for Trump, either people are afraid to be honest with you, or you live in a ridiculously homogenous bubble.

There’s no one weird sect of my white friends that chose Trump; they range from people I went to a small private elementary school with to former University of Maryland classmates. Almost my entire fucking family voted for him! I’m also one of the most vocally pro-BLM white people that I personally know, and I have been flooding my newsfeed with “hands up, don’t shoot” since Ferguson’s unrest, and a countdown to Trump’s reign starting from “Mexicans are rapists.” I’ve written for Cop Block, I write for liberal immigration lawyers, I have ripped apart both criticism of Baltimore’s uprising and praise of O’Malley on local and national platforms. I have lost work contracts and friends over my militantly pro-black, pro-woman opinions. And even with all of this, people still casually tell me they voted for Trump. Not only would it never cross my mind to give a negative response to a sign someone on my side is holding, but come on. If people tell me they voted for Trump, then I know they told other people. “Yup we sure did, and I know a fuck ton of them that I’m trying to work on,” is the most truthful response.

After Freddie Gray died, I gave up a travel heavy contract I had to write a book about the social, racial, and economic history of Baltimore and how these things culminated in the death of Freddie Gray. Because here is the thing: plenty of people who look like me would rather listen to me tell the history of the black experience in Baltimore instead of listening to, you know, black people. I am a white woman, and consequently I still benefit from white privilege.

So white women! Don’t step on people’s toes or put words in their mouth or act like you understand another’s struggle as though you’ve lived, but DO acknowledge that we benefit from the color of our skin. Take time to learn, and then act as a facilitator to help bridge communication between your fellow white feminists and the vast array of other types of feminists that exist. Don’t get distracted or bitter about signs pointing out that white women don’t show up to protest when black women are shot by the police, or by signs that show the actual statistics of who vote for Trump. Those things are accurate, and you don’t get to be salty with someone for delivering an accurate message.

I am here to share facts and data to help people begin to grasp the challenges faced by those who are less privileged than they are. I am NOT here to defend my fellow whites to communities already marginalized by white people. So what if someone thinks I might be a Trump voter because I’m white? Boo. Hoo. Hey, I’m gonna guess it fucking sucks more to have cops think you’re an armed threat just because you’re black.

Let’s not make #NotAllWhiteWomen the new #NotAllMen. White women benefit from white supremacy, and we need to acknowledge that. Otherwise we are just like the guys who think that sexism and the patriarchy are real, but THEY aren’t sexist so they aren’t part of the problem.

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Martin O’Malley: Rebuilding the American Dream, Like He Rebuilt Baltimore

I feel like I’ve been seeing way too much of Martin O’Malley lately. From being a guest on The Daily Show to playing the guitar on The View, O’Malley seems to not be deterred by his approval ratings. To the average person who only watches the debates and listens to the current soundbites, O’Malley sounds like a good candidate for Clinton’s cabinet (or whatever he’s aiming for at this point). I’ve seen many liberal leaning friends and news sources (especially those who consider police reform a primary issue) express their interest in O’Malley. His criminal justice reform plan even lists “build[ing] trust in law enforcement” as a top priority.

But the thing is, in Maryland we all know the truth about O’Malley.

How can the mayor that ordered mass arrests of innocent people and manipulated crime statistics possibly be the President we trust to understand and implement community policing?

How can the mayor who ruined community and police relations possibly be the President (or whatever position he’s going for) we trust to rebuild faith in the police force?

Back in April, I watched Martin O’Malley stop by West Baltimore for a photo op. Starting at the burned down CVS, he slowly made his way down Penn, shaking hands and smiling with the crowd that had gathered to protest the death of Freddie Gray. I’m sure he thought it was a great idea for him to do before announcing that he was running for President — until an angry protestor on a motorcycle started following him. “YOU DID THIS! YOU KILLED FREDDIE GRAY!” the man yelled. O’Malley quickly picked up his pace and escaped into the black SUV waiting for him at the end of the block.

He wasn’t wrong.

Nothing O’Malley has ever done shows he is capable of facilitating a community oriented policing program, or that he even knows what community policing is.

O’Malley now claims that he wants to make community policing a priority — though Baltimore didn’t get its Community Partnership Division until after O’Malley was long gone from Baltimore. O’Malley’s Baltimore focused on manufactured statistics and graphs, not human compassion or an understanding of how to treat the root causes of crime. Numbers get you noticed by White House, after all.

During the first Democratic debate, O’Malley assured us that in his Baltimore, arrests and crime fell.  He was half right — crime did fall in Baltimore, just like it did nationwide. But I don’t really know why he claimed arrests fell; in 2005 there were over 100,00 arrests in a city of roughly 600,000 people. How could crime possibly be falling if the police saw fit to arrest almost 1/6 of the city’s population? Under O’Malley the blanket policy of the BPD appeared to be “arrest everyone — or else.” People were not arrested for committing crimes, they were arrested and held for up to 54 hours with no charges ever filed. When people were assigned bail, they usually couldn’t pay it and would spend a month or two in jail until their cases would be dismissed. In 2006 the ACLU and NAACP filed a lawsuit against O’Malley for this practice. Spoiler alert: the city settled.

While O’Malley’s BPD were making mass arrests, they certainly didn’t prioritize arresting rapists. In 2010 the Baltimore Sun reported that police would aggressive question rape victims, causing 30% of victims to change their accusation to “unfounded” — which was five times the national average. On paper, the amount of rapes in Baltimore declined 80% versus the national average of 8%; the city didn’t even go for a believable, gradual decrease. 

Not to mention, O’Malley did his best to expedite the school to prison pipeline until political opposition was just too much to handle.

When you see Martin O’Malley talking on TV, please don’t let him blind you with charming jokes about the NRA or the honest good he did here with immigration and gay marriage.

Instead, please remember his first legacy — the city of Baltimore.

Remember Freddie Gray. Tyrone West. George V. King. Officer William Torbit Jr.

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DC Metro: Nah, I’d Rather Walk. Or Stay Home.

Despite the fact that Metro is the worst, people are constantly telling me that I’m too harsh. Of course, these people are usually tourists or non-commuters, who then tell me that the train worked just fine when they went to that one Nats game that one time, or how when they visited DC it was so easy to get the museums. These people are wrong. Metro is a poorly maintained, poorly run, and overpriced debacle. The small annoyances are so typical I barely think to complain about them: unheated or unbearably overheated cars, constant delays, trains that don’t show up, 19 minute waits for the train you need. The larger annoyances sometimes grab attention, but it takes a death to make a big splash. On Monday of this week, a yellow line train on the DC Metro stopped 800 feet from the station it had just departed and filled with smoke. Passengers sat in the increasingly hot train for about an hour, breathing in the smoke and being told to not open the doors. When paramedics finally showed up, one woman was dead and over 80 needed hospitalization. Monday was not an isolated incident; it was just an example of how inefficient and incompetent Metro is.

It is ridiculously expensive to take Metro for the quality of the service you get. Speaking as someone who frequently pays the extra money to take Amtrak to Alexandria instead of Metro, I’m fine paying more for efficiency.  Metro runs on a system that requires you swipe your card when boarding and then again when exiting, running prices on a sliding scale based on distance. To get from the heart of the city to Franconia-Springfield is $5.75; if it was my daily commute, that would total $16.35 for round trip and $4.85 parking (interestingly, the stations in Prince George’s County are $5.10 — despite being far less crowded). Doesn’t WMATA have a responsibility to make using Metro worth $16.35, or at least make Metro convenient enough that you’re fine leaving the comfort of your car? You’d think.

Dupont South, from http://unsuckdcmetro.blogspot.com/
Dupont South, from http://unsuckdcmetro.blogspot.com/

Paying $16.35 a day, would you expect to have to hike up 188 foot long escalator? If you’re a Washingtonian, the answer is “yes.” The DuPont South escalator is the worst. The escalators at all stations are constantly out, and sometimes the elevators are too. Are you disabled? Metro doesn’t appear to give a shit about you.

Maybe if you were one of the passengers stranded just steps from L’Enfant Plaza, you’d think that you were entitled to just get the hell out of the station once you were being evacuated.  Nope! I know it isn’t typically the most reliable source, but people reported on Twitter that they were still forced to scan their card and wait for the exit to open for each evacuee (the same person said she told the news and they didn’t report on it).

On Monday, the smoke in the train was caused by arcing.  While it produced a massive amount of smoke, it didn’t cause a fire. Of course, people on the train don’t know this. As usual, Metro didn’t tell the passengers the information they needed (and deserved) to know. The one thing they did communicate was to stay in the train — despite being only 800 feet from the station/freedom. Even though all of the emergency signs say to exit on the side of the tunnel where the lights are (away from the electric third rail), passengers weren’t allowed to exit, and the firefighters couldn’t figure out if the third rail was on or off to get to the victims. But this makes a lot more sense when you look at Metro’s Standard Operating Procedures and realize that….they don’t actually have a plan.

6.5.3.4.  If the Train Operator was not able to reverse from the heavy smoke, the ROCC Supervisor shall:  6.5.2.4.1. FUCKING PANIC
6.5.3.4. If the Train Operator was not able to reverse from the heavy smoke, the ROCC Supervisor shall:
6.5.3.4.1. ???????????????????????????

You’d think that Metro would put into their rules what they would do when there is a lot of smoke, since this isn’t a new problem.  According to WMATA, arcing insulators occur about twice a month, though IMO that number seems like it’s low. The day after the L’Enfant Plaza incident, sparks and smoke were reported at the Gallery Place stop. All locals remember in 2013, when a  Green Line train had a problem with arcing — and everyone was told to spend hours stuck in the trains, without power. Riders started to “rebel” by self evacuating. Not only did Metro not approve, they wondered if they could arrest people for freeing themselves. What. The. Fuck.

To be fair, “sit still and do as we say” is the only way Metro has to handle any situation. In July 2012 a train lost power and passengers were told to hang tight…on a 90 degree, muggy DC summer day. Not in a tunnel. While the passengers say they exited after being told to do so by the conductor, Metro claimed that passengers were responsible for being forced to sit so long. Even though the “rescue” train also lost power before the pax self evacuating, apparently the passengers were to blame.

Elevator repair: blocking off the elevator for 6 months and taking breaks.
Escalator repair: blocking off the escalator for 6 months and taking breaks.

Now the union representing the transit people is on Twitter, holding a Q&A…and getting an earful. They linked to a useful PDF about why we shouldn’t privatize the system because people will lose jobs.  In reality,  illiteracy, drug use, and prior convictions run rampant in the staff currently employed by the system…as does extreme overpayment. Anytime you’re interested in a good laugh (or cry), just search Twitter for #wmata so you can see the day’s misery. And remember: it’s DC, so if you’re an American…this is your tax dollars at work!

To read about other things that piss me off, you can find me on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to my blog. 

Last Words: I Can’t Breathe / Why Did You Shoot Me / It’s Not Real / Mom, I’m Going to College

For as long as I can remember, I’ve campaigned to end the war on drugs. It’s caused increased violence, a loss of rights, and increased addiction. I’ve kept up on the “isolated incidents” resulting in the death of people and/or their pets, of the ruined lives. But yesterday both my heart and my faith in the American justice system shattered. It isn’t often I feel completely helpless. I’m so sorry for the family of Eric Garner; for all the families of those who have been killed by police. It’s obviously sad when anyone has their life come to an end, but to be killed by those we have chosen to protect is a tragic betrayal. If we’re supposed to trust the police to not harm us, why isn’t there the same level of accountability for them as there is for us?

At this point, whether or not Michael Brown’s hands were up has become irrelevant. The death of Brown has sparked a movement that is larger than one single action. So many people who are content with the status quo of militarized police operations are quick to point out that he was a thug, a criminal — and strong armed robbery means you deserve to be killed. If you believe that, nothing I can say or do can change your mind. That is part of who you fundamentally are. What I can teach you is that the issue is much larger than one incident. It is an American problem, and given racial and social prejudices, it is a problem that manifests itself in the black community.

If you’re uncomfortable talking about how this is a race problem, let’s start by talking about how this is a militarized police problem. This is nothing new.  Michelle Alexander wrote in The New Jim Crow:

According to the Cato Institute, in 1997 alone, the Pentagon handed over more than 1.2 million pieces of military equipment to local police departments. Similarly, the National Journal reported that between January 1997 and October 1999, the agency handled 3.4 million orders of Pentagon equipment from over eleven thousand domestic police agencies in all fifty states. Included in the bounty were “253 aircraft (including six- and seven-passenger airplanes, UH-60 Blackhawk and UH-1 Huey helicopters, 7,856 M-16 rifles, 181 grenade launchers, 8,131 bulletproof helmets, and 1,161 pairs of night-vision goggles.” A retired police chief in New Haven, Connecticut, told the New York Times, “I was offered tanks, bazookas, anything I wanted.”

Now let’s pretend for a moment that every non-indicted officer that killed a black civilian actually was within his or her rights. If officers are using their discretion and aiming to injure whites when they are also within their right to shoot to kill, then they are doing something wrong.

On the right is Dan Bilzerian. On the left is NOT Mike Brown. But that picture was used to convince people Brown was a thug. Hmm...
On the left is Dan Bilzerian. On the right is NOT Mike Brown. But that picture was used to convince people Brown was a thug. Hmm…

Michael Brown was not shot over stealing cigarillos,and it’s misrepresentative to say that the robbery led to the shooting (and this includes people on my side, saying life is worth more than cigarillos). Depressingly, I’ve heard many people say that if you don’t engage in strong armed robbery (or whatever crime it is when speaking of other individuals), you won’t have anything to worry about. I’ve read countless tweets, comments, etc from people: “I don’t commit robbery, so I don’t care about this issue.“ These people are most definitely saying that if the people who commit these crimes end up being shot, then whatever. Everyone that posted that stupid picture of Joda Cain holding a glock, with money in his mouth and liquor to his side, saying it was Brown and that he wasn’t really innocent, is guilty of this. People act like prior criminal acts make it a-ok when someone is shot. Hell, I’ve got a nolle prossed assault charge that could easily be found if the cops gunned me down. But one assault charge does not mean I deserve to die. 

I have read every single page of the grand jury documents. I cycled on this: first I was fully on Brown’s side, as evidence came out I was middle of the road, then when the docs were released I thought I might end up on Wilson’s side. Nope. After it was all said and done, thousands of pages later, I have questions. Maybe it was self defense, maybe it wasn’t. We will never know, and that is the problem. Sure, murder is a legal term and cannot be correctly applied without a trial — but in the vernacular, we use the term more loosely than in the court room. And I’m not buying an “accident.” Not for Eric Garner, not for Aiyana Jones, not for Oscar Grant. Careless, reckless endangerment of human life is a better way to say it than accident. You know what is fucking bull shit? Look at Cory Maye, who was home during a no knock raid on the duplex next door to his. Trying to protect his 2 year old daughter, he killed one of the cops that intruded into his home without announcing himself. HE was convicted of murder and sentenced to death row until, years later, the media got ahold of his story and drew attention to it. If the legal standard for murder is shooting an unannounced intruder in your home, then I think we’re safe to apply it pretty liberally when someone is laying face down on the ground without a weapon and gets shot through the lungs (Grant).

Even if it’s just that accidents are happening, it’s important to hold the police to the same letter of the law that we hold civilians. What message does it send to the community when a cop gets 11 months for shooting someone he knows isn’t armed on the BART platform, but a father exercising his 2nd amendment right and protecting his home gets sent to death row? What message is sent when a cop, 6 seconds after announcing his arrival for a raid, fires his gun into the lower level of the duplex he’s supposed to be raiding, and one of his shots lands in a child’s brain — and he’s simply charged with a misdemeanor? When the fucking MAYOR of Berwyn Heights has his dogs shot in front of him during a botched drug raid, and the PG County PD official response is “We’ve apologized for the incident, but we will never apologize for taking drugs off our streets. Quite frankly, we’d do it again. Tonight.” What message does it send when a cop throws a flash grenade into a baby’s playpen and isn’t charged with anything, while the child is forever disfigured?

CheyeCalvo
Berwyn Heights mayor Cheye Calvo

At the end of the day, human life is precious. There are certainly instances where force is justified, where it’s necessary. But it’s alarming to me that so many people seem to be okay with the notion that fatally shooting a civilian isn’t a last resort. We work to demonize the dead: you are not defined by your rap sheet, or by the ounce of pot found in your house during a drug raid that results in your own death, or by a photo of you holding stacks of hundreds. Even if you were, cops don’t get to play judge, jury, and executioner.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Share your protest stories in the comments. Title inspired by this video. 

The Most Offensive Thing About the Term Redskins? Everyone Pretending to be Offended

Newsflash: No one actually gives a shit about racism against Native Americans. People are jumping on the anti-Redskins bandwagon and crying about how offensive the term is, and then ignoring all of the other incredibly offensive things Americans do to Native Americans. If you’re actually offended by the term, you need to demonstrate that by doing more than hating an already largely hated sports team. It’s easy to dislike a football franchise from another city, but it’s more difficult to actually want to change things you like or policies that are inherently racist.

Remember when Etsy decided to ban everything Redskins? From their blog:

You may have been following the struggle of one ethnic group that has made a lot of headlines lately: Native Americans and their fight against the Washington, D.C. professional football team name and mascot, which they have long considered offensive, disparaging, and racist….We understand that fans wish to support their favorite football team, and we do not believe that fans who are attached to the mascot have any racist feeling or intent. We also understand that some fans view the name and mascot as an homage to Native Americans, and we do not doubt their noble intent, but the fact remains that Native Americans themselves find the term unacceptable.

Okay, cool.  If Native Americans find it offensive then it is offensive and should be removed. So…why can you still buy elaborate handmade headdresses on Etsy? Didn’t we decide that headdresses are offensive over and over and over again?

I find it incredibly hypocritical that the same people crying over the Redskins take the time to celebrate Thanksgiving every year.  Do you know how you feel about going around the table and saying what you’re thankful for? That nice fuzzy feeling of tradition and happiness? That’s what all of those Redskins fans feel 16 days a year. Do you protest Columbus Day as an official holiday on the calendar? If not, get your shit together before you start protesting FedEx and every other brand affiliated with the Skins.

I guess I can go to Redskins games when I’m home in DC, and then assuage my white guilt by gambling at WinStar when I’m home in Dallas.

Totally not offensive
Totally not offensive
Not offensive
Moderately offensive
Mega fucking offensive
Mega fucking offensive

Ever Wonder What It’s Like to Drive in DC?

Mostly it’s parking tickets and speed cameras, unless you’re Marion Barry. Then it’s all driving your car the wrong way down a road and smashing into other people, and a couple grand in unpaid tickets.

20140805-125250-46370872.jpg

 You’re welcome, world. He’s our gift to you.