Category Archives: Essays

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Our Four Years

By Onnesha Roychoudhuri

“You’re just in time,” the woman tells me when I come back to the table. I haven’t retained her name, only the details — recently relocated from Tampa, Florida; thin, bright lipstick. The rest of my dinner companions have been living in New York for years, a group of primarily young white men at a friend-of-friend Thanksgiving dinner. Around the table, the men fell silent — a rare occurrence since I’d arrived. “We’re debating,” Tampa explains, “whether women are funny.” Continue reading

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Naked in Portland

By Jerry Harp

When my brother-in-law Bob came to town a few years ago, my wife Mary and I managed to give him something close to the quintessential Portland, Oregon, experience in the 18 hours he was here. Mary took him for a walk through the rhododendron garden down the street from where we live, then together we took him to a sushi restaurant famous for its decent food and wretched service (people crowd the sidewalk waiting to get in), and Powell’s City of Books, which we left just in time to get stuck in traffic as the annual Naked Bike Ride went by. Continue reading

Authority of Law Statue

President-Elect Trump, the Federal Judiciary, and Thanksgiving

By Carl Tobias

Last Friday, Donald Trump, thousands of Trump University students, and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that they had settled three long running cases alleging that the school had defrauded many students. The lawsuits’ settlement resulted substantially from concerted efforts by Southern District of California Judge Gonsalvo Curiel. The jurist persistently moved toward resolution one case, which he had scheduled for trial next Monday while suggesting that the parties consider a settlement. At Thanksgiving, Mr. Trump and millions of Americans should give thanks for the dedicated service rendered by Judge Curiel and hundreds of federal judges, who assiduously labor every day to deliver justice. Continue reading

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Oh California, Will You Take Me As I Am?

By Annie Buckley

The week before the world changed, I was in Nashville, Tennessee for the National Conference on Higher Education in Prisons, where I was struck by a realization that my experiences here in California were quite different from those of my colleagues in other states. The most poignant example came in a workshop I took with Reforming Arts of Georgia. The facilitators asked us to share something about the place we come from. We started with the concrete — geography, neighborhood — and gradually moved into more nuanced areas — identity, values — and, as each person shared, those who agreed with the statement or had had similar experiences moved to a new spot. Continue reading

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Construction Sites of Los Angeles: Regional Connector Transit Corridor, 1st and Alameda

By Ellie Robins

Underworld. In London in 1863, sulphurous gas belched from the new Tube tunnels up to the streets, and families feared they’d be poisoned. In Portland in 1870, a hole could open under a robust young man, and he’d be whipped into the Shanghai Tunnels and out to indentured servitude at sea. Here in downtown Los Angeles, 11 miles of secret subterranean passages once trafficked prisoners, secret money, and mob victims’ corpses. It’s dark down there. Continue reading

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Making White Supremacy Respectable. Again.

By Katherine Franke

Last Friday, two tweets were posted to my feed within minutes of each other. David Duke tweeted: “Bannon, Flynn, Sessions – Great!  Senate must demand that Sessions as AG stop the massive institutional racism against whites!” (Yes, I follow David Duke on Twitter — I now follow many right wing sites, I learn more from them than I do from the echo chamber of Facebook), and the New York Times tweeted out Mark Lilla’s opinion piece, “The End of Identity Liberalism.”  In the new political climate we now inhabit, Duke and Lilla were contributing to the same ideological project, the former cloaked in a KKK hood, the latter in an academic gown.  Both men are underwriting the whitening of American nationalism, and the re-centering of white lives as lives that matter most in the U.S.  Duke is happy to own the white supremacy of his statements, while Lilla’s op-ed does the more nefarious background work of making white supremacy respectable.  Again. Continue reading

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The Politics of Parading

By Emmanuel Ordóñez Angulo

Almost everyone knows Oscar Wilde’s dictum that “life imitates art far more than art imitates life” — and almost everyone believes anything that escaped from Oscar Wilde’s lips. So why was almost everyone so vexed by what happened in Mexico City early this month? The city’s government organized the first-ever Day of the Dead parade very much reproducing the at-the-time fictional parade featured in the opening of the most recent 007 film Spectre. Life imitating art, by definition — or, at least, reality imitating fiction. Continue reading

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A Call to White Allies

By Sophie Browner

A beautiful thing has happened. In the ten days since Donald Trump was elected as president, a new rhetoric has emerged to counter the neofascism that the people who voted him into office have seemingly normalized. On Wednesday of this week, I organized a protest with several members of my community against Trump’s appointment of Steve Bannon as chief strategist. For those not familiar with Bannon’s background, he is the executive chairman of Breitbart News, a conservative American commentary website. To give you a sense of Breitbart’s politics, previous headlines featured on the site: “Hoist it High and Proud: The Confederatre Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage”; “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy”…You get the point. Bannon refers to himself as a member of the “alt-right,” which critics have rightfully picked up as a euphemism for white nationalism. Continue reading