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On empathy

I want you to think about this. I believe it is important. I don’t need your empathy to take the form of you trying to understand my pain as a black person in America. I need your empathy to take the form of you examining your apathy, inaction, and complicity, as a white person in America. I need you to do this, for there to ever be hope that such violence will end. This is the greatest act of love you could give me in this horrible moment.

From “Charleston, and what I want from white people” by Mawiyah at Each Little Spark.

Link from Ruth DeSouza.

For all that, though, my son’s first year was the best of my life. I learned that while travel with a baby isn’t easy, it’s doable. We took him to Malaysia, where I was speaking at a conference, when he was 6 months old, and then on a reporting trip to Panama a few months later. Both of these were countries we’d been to before; seeing them again with our son made travel feel new. He made staying home feel new, too. When I was with him, the habitual churning of my mind eased. Instead of arguing with strangers on Twitter, I spent hours in neighborhood parks I’d barely noticed before, my attention resting on my burbling, improbably exuberant little boy. Ultimately, even my work life improved: The crisis motherhood brought on led me to refocus on more satisfying long-form writing. Something Louis C.K. said recently was true for me: “I realized that a lot of the things that my kid was taking away from me, she was freeing me of.”

From Michelle Goldberg’s lovely “I was a proud non-breeder: then I changed my mind” in New York Post.

I don’t agree with much of this by Laura Kipnis – for instance, I have trouble being that casual about university teacher-student sexual relationships – but I think her article, “Sexual paranoia strikes academe” in The Chronicle of Higher Education is raising some worthwhile questions about vulnerability and power.

Reading this article it strikes me that the over-simplification of sexual abuse/assault/harassment means that victims are only victims if they are ‘good people’ and conversely, abusers can only be that if they’re ‘bad people’. Realistically, both are ordinary people and there’s vulnerability all over the place. And ok, the woman in this situation might have forgotten that the man is also vulnerable. But he has forgotten that the woman he desires in a fairly objectifying way is actually a human, like him.

What struck me most, hearing the story, was how incapacitated this woman had felt, despite her advanced degree and accomplishments. The reason, I think, was that she imagined she was the only vulnerable one in the situation. But look at the editor: He was married, with a midlevel job in the scandal-averse world of corporate publishing. It simply wasn’t the case that he had all the power in the situation or nothing to lose. He may have been an occluded jerk, but he was also a fairly human-sized one.

So that’s an example of a real-world situation, postgraduation. Somehow I don’t see the publishing industry instituting codes banning unhappily married editors from going goopy over authors, though even with such a ban, will any set of regulations ever prevent affective misunderstandings and erotic crossed signals, compounded by power differentials, compounded further by subjective levels of vulnerability?

Clutter as a nest

I have started saying things to my sons like: “When I die, just please, rent a warehouse, and put everything away. You are too young to understand the value of what I have bought. Someday you will want these things, and you’ll only have to shop in your warehouse.”

Never mind that their homes may be full of their own things. I want to know, now, that forever after, I will be watching down on them from the walls and the shelves, having somehow transmogrified myself into my stuff.

Because I do believe that happens. We were meant to be together, and the cells from my sweaty palms, or the eye beams from my covetous gaze, will reside in my things forever.

That’s the idea, anyway.

There is a reason we talk about nesting. Next time you are out walking, take a close look at a nest.

Nests are full of twigs, bits of fluff, string, moss and bark. Stuff birds take home, and fit to a shape that accommodates their lives.

From Dominque Browning’s “Let’s celebrate the art of clutter” in The New York Times.

“Quarantine With Abdelhalim Hafez”

the lyrics do not              translate
arabic     is all verbs      for what stays
still          in other languages
تصبح         to morning       what the
translation      to awake      cannot
honor cannot contain its rhyme with
تسبح      to swim        t        to  make
the night a body               of water

i am here now & i cannot morning
i am twenty-three        & always
sick      small for my age & always
translating          i  cannot sleep
through the night

no language       has given me the
rhyme              between ocean &
wound         that i know to be true
sometimes          when the doctors
draw my useless blood          i feel
the word     at the tip of my tongue

halim sings     أعرق              araq
I am drowning      i am drowning
the single word    for all the water
in his throat       does not translate

halim sings    teach me to kill the
tear in its duct         halim sings
i have no experience      in love
nor have i a boat      & i know he
cannot rest               cannot swim
through the night

i am looking     for a  voice    with
a wound in it      a man who could
only have died           by a form of
drowning            let the song take
its  time            let the ocean close
back up

Absolutely gorgeous poem from Safia Elhillo.

nicole-trunfio-photographed-breastfeeding-on-elle-australia-cover-instagram-1

Nicole Trunfio breastfeeding her son on the cover of Elle.

Trunfio has used the cover as an opportunity to advocate for a change in the stigma surrounding women who breastfeed in public.

More models and others being glamorous while breastfeeding and why I like it.

Stop now

HJborder

From Hester Jones’ “Stop Now” at MaMSIE Art Collection.

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