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America is Failing

I am a DC resident and a business owner who is about to be homeless, and there are countless people just like me across the US right now.

Applying for unemployment, March 17, 2020

Who gives a shit if a few minimum wage workers get a boost? I don’t care one bit. Even with the extra $600, I’m making HALF my pay. I’m losing my home. Just give people money.

If you’re lucky enough to have a job, you might not know much about how unemployment works. Your most recent annual income is divided into quarters, and each state has their own way of determining which quarter to use or if it’s an average of the four, and what makes you eligible. If you took off work unpaid for any reason in 2019, you got screwed when it came to determining your COVID unemployment rate.

In 2019 I broke my leg, and was unable to work for a large portion of the year. I have been a 1099 contractor for over a decade, so I wasn’t able to use any government benefits. Instead, I blew through my $12,000 savings, and then turned to Go Fund Me to beg for money for rent. Not knowing what else to do, I started a business in my old field. I was barely making ends meet until the end of the year, but secured numerous contracts for all of 2020. My income would have been between $1,200-$1,400 a week, finally pulling me out of the hole of poverty I was living in. Of course, my business is in live events, and so I have now refunded everything through January 2021 (the SBA’s lack of assistance is an issue for another time, but fuck them, too)

DC created a micro grant program, offering up to $25,000 to businesses who were impacted by COVID-19. I submitted a PDF showing around $17,000 of loss in a week long period. I was given $1,000. My unemployment wasn’t based on my 2020 losses; I was given $105 a week. This isn’t livable.

That might seem like an incredibly narrow and specific set of circumstances, but it actually probably isn’t — after all, bones are easy to break, and this is America, where we demand people be entrepreneurs. But with our complete lack of social safety net, there are so many reasons someone would be in my position — and Mitch McConnell thinks it’s funny, I guess.

Did you have cancer in 2019 and spend your time in chemo, unable to work?

Did your kids/spouse/parents die in 2019, and did you take time off work to grieve them?

Were you pregnant and on bed rest, or did you give birth and just want to spend some time with your newborn baby, out of your own pocket?

Did you go to rehab? Save up and take a 6 week break between jobs to hike the Appalachian Trail? Did you lose your old job? Not only has this pandemic been going on for months, but many of the people who had a lower 2019 income than they expected in 2020 had probably already exhausted their savings accounts before anyone knew what COVID-19 was.

Coronavirus is the only personal emergency you are allowed to have had in the last 5 years if you wish to survive this time with food on your plate and a roof over your head.

Before you think someone can contest it, remember that people are suing their states for lack of payment. Citizens are complaining that unemployment offices are picking up the phones and hanging up on them, leaving them unable to collect a single check for months. Hundreds of people in Oklahoma are sleeping in their cars for the chance to maybe get to talk to someone about claims they tried to file in March. If you are getting anything, you’re lucky.

Since I’ve been 1099 for so long, I know plenty of people who are also contractors — and pretty much 0 of them get 100% of their income from 1099 work. Everyone has some side job, or a client that insists on paying them W2. If you made $45,000 as a 1099 contractor in 2019, and $4,000 as a W2 employee, guess which one unemployment used to determine your weekly rate? That’s right: the W2 job. And no, you cannot contest it. My $105 a week comes from a part time W2 job I made $4,000 at in 2019.

As far as the idea that $600 + a meager state allowance is allowing someone to live the life of luxury: no. I wouldn’t wish the sinking pit feeling of destruction and poverty that I have been feeling almost nonstop on anyone. So what? Let people get ahead! We’re always saying we love small businesses and education; how many people aren’t receiving an education (college or otherwise), growing their craft/art, or starting a business because they’re exhausted after working on their feet for 40 hours a week for $7.75 an hour at one job, and 20 hours at another $8 an hour job?

And if you pay so low you can’t get your workers back? Well, that sounds like a personal problem.

Because I don’t have the luxury of time, I am losing my home. DC has an eviction moratorium until December, but my landlord wants the full $1,450 a month rate for my basement apartment (that has devalued significantly, in my opinion, based on a lack of windows and outdoor space, and a lack of need to be around transit/bars/jobs). The only option I have is to leave, or potentially accrue thousands and thousands of dollars in debt to him that I don’t know if I’d ever be able to pay. Despite his fully employed status and secured housing allowance, and despite me repeatedly telling him I make $105 a week, he continues to ask for money and wants to know how much of that $105 a week he can have right now.

A moratorium on evictions doesn’t stop my landlord from banging on my door asking about rent, or stomping around upstairs, or making my life hell. Or, to be frank, from illegally evicting me — once these payments stop, the city is going to be way too overwhelmed to help tenants.

So I will leave, and I will couch surf with friends and family, and I will try to figure out what to do. I will be a vector of disease, using public transit to move between houses in the DC metro area.

You are foolish if you think I’m the only one who will be risking people in this exact way. Absolutely nothing about my story is unique.

And because there are so many people in my situation — all those businesses begging to cut the pay so their underpaid workers come back? Well, they’re going to be in for a real shock when they have 0 customers. If 30 million people suddenly can’t survive, that’s 30 million fewer people getting to go orders, going shopping, and paying rent. That means landlords who need our money won’t be eating out, either. Say goodbye to all those local bars and restaurants you like — if the extra $600 isn’t extended, they might as well shut down tomorrow.

It is disgusting, short sighted, and foolish to end or lower these payments. It is disgusting that 30,000,000 of us will go by on scraps for, at best, weeks, while the republicans stall and jerk everyone around.

But god forbid a few people make a couple extra bucks with the extra $600.

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DC in June

A collection of pictures taken during the Black Lives Matter/George Floyd protests June 1-9.

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Black Square Energy

Earlier this week, a lot of people participated in #BlackOutTuesday by posting a black square on social media, indicating that they were a person that was willing to listen and learn about racial injustice. I chose to not participate, because I felt my actions for the last decade of my life indicated where I stand.

Five years ago, I was an asshole for shutting down highways and streets in the fight against police brutality and racial injustice. I lost friends and jobs because I dared to say “Black Lives Matter.” I regularly received death and rape threats.

Three days ago, Ulta sent me an email that said “Black Lives Matter.” I am white and I am frustrated; I cannot imagine what I would feel if I was Black.

“Why do you care so much about Black Lives Matter? Is your boyfriend black?”

When Mike Brown was killed by Darren Wilson in Ferguson, organizers in DC set up regular protests that disrupted main roads and highways. These marches lacked pre-announced routes; there were no permits, no cluing the cops in to where we would go, what intersections would be blocked, what time we’d be done. MPD would try to beat us to a destination, and we would simply change our route. Sometimes snow plows would be lined up to hide us from tourists on the mall.

I attended every march that my schedule allowed, even occasionally lugging my protest sign to work events and coat checking it. And while I knew publicly talking about what I was doing was going to be polarizing, I didn’t really anticipate how much it would impact my life.

“I’m all for expressing your voice in discontent, but disrupting the lives of others by ‘shutting it down’ is not only inappropriate but illegal…not to mention unsafe.”

Personally, I think it’s pretty fucking disruptive to murder a man and leave his dead body in the road, but what do I know? I became the liberal nut job, the PC police. I lost work contracts, I was blocked on Facebook by “friends.” I was told I was wrong, over and over. People would tell me they had been afraid to talk to me because they thought I was going to be super race baiting obnoxious girl.

Imagine what they would have thought and said if I wasn’t white.

“I support the message, but I really don’t like how you guys are going about it. Do you have to block the highways? And don’t all lives matter?”

Even getting to the DCFerguson protests was always an experience. When I would stand on the train with my sign leaning on my legs, I could feel the discomfort in the air. The coverage of Ferguson had people on edge, and they hated the inconvenience of the road closures. White people wanted to read what I had written, but they didn’t want to be stuck engaging with me.

But as uncomfortable as I made white people, every time I carried the sign onto metro, at least one Black person would say something to me. Sometimes it was a comment about someone on the sign (usually Aiyana Jones); sometimes it was about wanting a better America for his or her kid; sometimes it was “thank you for doing this.”

Over the next few years I would hear “thank you for doing this, thank you for being here, thank you for caring” many times. I have heard it from old ladies, from teenage boys still in high school. Just like when people ask me why I even care, I never know what to say. I can’t imagine a world in which this is not vitally important. There is no choice but to show up.

“Maybe Freddie Gray didn’t deserve to die, but if he was innocent, why did he run?”

N. Carey & W North Ave, Baltimore, April 28 2015

When the Baltimore City Police killed Freddie Gray, I re-routed my energy from DC to Baltimore. When the National Guard was called in to the city, they were placed in the “desirable” tourist district, the Inner Harbor. In West Baltimore, they placed the same riot cops who were causing the problems to begin with.

On one West Wednesday, we marched to Power Plant Live. Even though we were a completely peaceful group, fully separated from the property by a barrier and police, a sobbing white woman came up to us. Of all the people present, she looked at me and asked, “Why are you doing this? Why are they doing this to my business?”

Lady, we’re chanting about justice for Tyrone West. We’re chanting that all night, all day we will fight for Freddie Gray. Lady, listen — it’s not all 100% about you as an individual. It’s about targeting the white, wealthy areas of a city that are shown off to tourists and county bar goers. It’s about business owners who put their businesses in black cities and use black labor, and do not reinvest in the community in which they are growing their own wealth on the backs of.

And if you’re white, you’re going to have to realize it’s not all 100% about you as an individual either — but it is about you, too.

Where was your black square energy when people were posting photographs of Joda Cain and claiming he was Mike Brown? Where was your black square energy when Ferguson police yanked protesters out of their cars, when they illegally arrested reporters like Ryan J Reilly and Wesley Lowery?

Where was this energy when the car Malissa Williams and Timothy Russell were in backfired, causing Officer Michael Brelo to jump onto the hood and fire 15 close range shots through the windshield? And when the judge said he couldn’t be convicted since other cops fired 122 rounds in 20 seconds into the vehicle, and it was impossible to know exactly which bullets had actually caused their deaths?

Where has this energy been hiding while lead has lined the walls and pipes of the homes of Black children, stunting cognitive growth and ruining futures for generations?

Where has this energy been as COVID-19 disproportionally ravages communities of color?

Perhaps the most shocked at a protest I’ve ever been was watching women wearing pussy hats thanking guardsmen for being on Pennsylvania Avenue the day after inauguration. Or when Capitol Police on motorcycles drove back and forth in front of SCOTUS, asking people with baby strollers and puppies to get back on the sidewalk at a Muslim ban protest. There was no tear gas, no zip ties, no stingray, no kettling, no ominous announcement that we must disperse, no extra weaponry, no helicopters.

But now the police are showing you who they are. They have always shown communities of color who they are, and now that you know, you need to keep fighting — even when shops and bars are open, when a COVID-19 vaccine exists. When you have “something better” to do.

W North Ave, April 2016

Because now you know why Freddie Gray ran.

You have an obligation to shut up and learn right now: both about white supremacy, and about police reform. When people of color are speaking, listen. You’re going to have to learn a lot; you’re going to have to come to grips with the fact you’ve accidentally been a microaggressing asshole, perhaps even to people you love.

It’s uncomfortable to realize things you have done have caused pain to others and helped maintain the status quo of white supremacy — but it’s time to get the fuck over it and do your part.

You have to connect the dots on all of the issues, because they’re all related — cops firing nearly 150 times into a vehicle because a car backfired, asking to touch someone’s hair, nude colored shoes being beige, lead poisoning disproportionately impacting Black children, calling Black speakers “so articulate,” good, liberal white families in the city sending their kids to private schools instead of the public ones, the prevalence of liquor stores and lack of grocery stores in many urban areas.

Even if you call out every possible thing you see other white people doing wrong, you will always be one step behind, and you will always have the ability to turn off.

Don’t rely on the emotional labor of Black people in your journey. If you don’t understand something, Google it. Read forums. Read social media. I promise, someone has broken it down for you already.

The June 4th episode of The Daily Zeitgeist inspired me to write this all down. Go listen. Read about the Deacons for Defense. Understand the history of lead in America.

And if you’re able, go put your bodies on the line.

Protest Compilation – June 2, Part 2

Highlights of tweets from/about protests across the US, posted June 2.

Frostburg, Maryland

Hoover, Alabama

Protest Compilation – June 2, Part 1

Highlights of tweets from/about protests across the US, posted June 2.

Asheville, North Carolina

Boise, Idaho

Dallas, Texas

Denver, Colorado

Protest Compilation – June 1

Since not everyone lives on Twitter, I am trying to make highlights each night. It gets a little difficult because I am also at protests, so if I miss something good, let me know! These are tweets from/about protests across the US, posted June 1-2.

Nationwide

Baltimore, Maryland

Charleston, South Carolina

Charlotte, North Carolina

Denver, Colorado

Des Moines, Iowa

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Greensboro, North Carolina

Protest Compilation – Sunday May 31

Tweets from/about protests across the US, posted May 31-June 1.

Atlanta, Georgia

Austin, Texas

Chicago, Illinois

Cleveland, Ohio

Protest Compilation

Since I can’t go to the protests in DC until tomorrow, I have been sending tweets/updates to friends. I realized they probably aren’t the only people who are interested in seeing what’s going on at the protests, but don’t want to be glued to Twitter, so here we go. This is a collection from the last few days, but I’ll try to run one tonight that’s more “live” since I understand other people sleep.

Baltimore, Maryland

Columbus, Ohio

I’M WHITE AND AFRAID OF EVERYTHING: SPANISH IS SPOKEN TOO FAST AND I’M SCARED

WashPo profiled a scared white person, and I am just so grateful that I am able to better understand what it is like to be white and afraid of everything. They tracked a young couple, Heaven and Venson, who work at the Bell & Evans chicken plant in Fredericksburg, PA.

She knew she was about to go at least eight hours without speaking English, or probably anything at all, in a plant where nearly all of the workers were Latino and spoke Spanish, and she was one of the few who wasn’t and didn’t.

If only there was something that could be done about this….

[Heaven and Venson] held the embrace, swaying slightly, their world outside the plant’s walls — white, rural, conservative — feeling distant in this world within, where they were the outsiders, the ones who couldn’t communicate, the minority.

Wow. This is pretty fucking dramatic for a description of going into your job of quality checking chicken, holy shit.

Continue reading

Dear Conservative Male Snowflakes: I’m Sorry My Dating Profile Hurts Your Fragile Male Ego

Men, I am begging you: please stop using dating apps as debating apps.

I am a single, liberal, feminist woman, and I’m not interested in dating a man who isn’t likeminded. Instead of accidentally going on a bunch of first dates with Trump voters, I’m pretty clear about my opinions on my dating profiles. I have a website where I sell anti-Trump t-shirts, with proceeds benefiting organizations directly impacted by his policies. Not only do I wear the shirts in two of my photos, I clearly state “I own AbortMikePence.com,” the site I sell the shirts on. I don’t bring this up because I want to debate politics, I bring it up because I don’t want to spend the rest of my life defending things I believe to be important to my partner. Not being liberal is a deal breaker for me.

bumbl3

Oftentimes on OkCupid, I’ll get a message from an angry man who wants to explain to me why he hates “O’Bummer” and why I’m an idiot, but Bumble is pretty safe — after all, we can’t message each other unless we’ve matched. Or so I thought.

Last month I went to a wedding in Charleston, South Carolina. While I was there, I guess Bumble showed my profile results to people around me — because three weeks after I got home, I noticed an email from one of my potential matches.

Apparently, some poor little conservative male snowflake found my Bumble profile to be the most offensive thing he had ever seen. Since this angry man could not message me on Bumble, he went to my website and got my email. He then made a fake email account so he could send me the following novel:

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 12.22.26 AM

There are so many things wrong with this message, but I’d like to draw attention to the line “I am just waiting for the day I get the go ahead to grab a rifle. Because a peaceful resolution will not occur. You parasites are a plague.” Look, I’m not an expert — but I think the man who is so enraged by a stranger’s 300 character Bumble profile that he has to go through hoops to email her probably shouldn’t have a rifle.

So I’m sorry, Mr. NOT a beta male. I’m sorry if I hurt your little fee-fees with my preference to date men who are not like you. After all, I am just a nasty shitlib woman, living a lie. My only regret is that, yes, indeed — TrumpsRussiaTies.com is taken.

This is a repost from summer 2017. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Buy an Abort Mike Pence, Cage Jeff Sessions, or Repeal and Replace the GOP shirt here! If you like my writing, please consider contributing to my Patreon