Seven Easy Steps to Make America Better

Hey Lovely People,

In the wake of the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history and the killing of another black man by U.S. police forces I wanted to reach out and encourage a little positive action:
1. In my Facebook feed I notice a distinct difference between the posts by my black friends and those of my white friends, so, white friends:
  • Next: talk to your other white friends/colleagues in the U.S. It’s an uncomfortable topic, but we need accountability and accountability comes from discussions.
2. Find your representative here. Write your representative asking him/her to repeal the Dickey Amendment, allowing the Center for Disease Control to do research on gun violence. This is an easy start. If you’re feeling ambitious you can ask for other things, but I know not all of us feel entirely similar on gun control. At least let us have good data on how it’s affecting our country.
3. If interested, check out other action you can take through gun control advocacy groups like Everytown, the Brady Campaign, or the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
4. Need a break?
5. Back? Refreshed? Ready for more? Good. Check out Campaign Zero, which documents police killings in the U.S. and has links to many valuable resources, including the Check the Police project, which focuses on the ways in which union contracts can be detrimental to police accountability.
6. Set an alarm on your phone, and copy/paste the stuff you choose to send your representative/senator and keep sending it.
7. Finally: get your friends involved. Forward this email. Have a “social movement happy hour”. I don’t care. Get others involved.
As Brexit just illustrated, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The squeaky wheel in America right now is the NRA, and xenophobic, white supremacists like Donald Trump and the populist movement that supports him. We can’t afford to be shy about having uncomfortable–but respectful– conversations. We are all incredibly privileged to have been born in a certain part of the world and–ignoring the fact that we do owe it to our communities (big and small ) to be better neighbors– in the long run a U.S. with fewer police shootings and less gun violence is better for all of us.
Plus, if y’all want me to come back we have to do a better job fixing our country.

Night Cheese

Northern Ireland, where I am currently based, suffers from research exhaustion. Bright-eyed anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, ad infinitum parachuted in for two-week stints to have meetings with combatants and prisoners arranged for them in sterile backrooms. Would that it were somewhere I could use Slavic language skills, or really anywhere not so overrun with researchers. But, the phenomenon and circumstances that interest me are here and only here.

Research exhaustion means most involved are adept at dealing with researchers, which includes knowing who we are and what we want before we’ve had opportunity to properly introduce ourselves. Hence this week’s encounter with a person who had no reason to know me, who, by way of introduction, stated: “I knows who yous are.” This is a small community, and I am aware this is how things go. Nevertheless: yikes.

My housemates were all away an evening after this happened, and Storm Gertrude helped a creepy, creaky old house be even more creepy and creaky. Shutters banged, the house groaned, and imagines of violence stayed sleep. I had spent some of the day listening to accounts of profound violence, and had entertained myself earlier in the day by educating myself about the details surrounding a recent dismemberment in the Republic of Ireland.

For those that know insomnia, the longer you stay awake the more portentous the imagination becomes. I am not an irrational person, yet the week’s stories snowballed in my mind and grew uncontrollable. By 02.30 I had read all the books stashed on my bedside, and the midnight munchies set in.

But if I went downstairs to the kitchen, there would surely be a man in a balaclava waiting for me. Surely no cheese was worth finding out what terrible things the stairwell light would illuminate. I could wait till morning when the sun would vanquish the enemies that were surely at the gate.

But time crawled on, and my growling stomach joined Storm Gertrude’s howling. And you know what? I can say now with confidence that fear enhances cheese’s deliciousness.


What I’m Listening To: I’m not. I’m humming “Night Cheese” from 30 Rock to myself.

Must Watch: God of Loss

It is not often I will dedicate a post entirely to a piece of media, but this particular piece struck me as meritorious. I am new to the group Darlingside, who based this song on the novel The God of Small Thingsbut after this music video I will definitely be keeping an eye on them.

I will leave you to NPR’s Bob Boilen’s far more apt description of the band, video, and the song’s background, but I hope you enjoy.

Cabbage and Caviar Annotates Article 22 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Media coverage of the on-going–and worsening– migrant crisis includes the faces of children. Many of these images are now infamous, and have presented the migrant crisis as the harrowing emergency it is.

Never one to miss a teachable [preachable?] moment, I thought this might be a good opportunity for Cabbage and Caviar to revisit the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Continue reading

Gumption and Gun Control

“We may feel genuinely concerned about world conditions, though such a concern should drive us into action and not into a depression.” –Karen Horney, Self-Analysis

On the heels of a mass shooting in Oregon, the death of a little girl over a puppy (when are we charging Daddy, by the way, for keeping a loaded shotgun where his son could access it so easily?), another fatal shooting in Ohio where an 11 year-old fatally shot his brother while target shooting, and the arrest of four students who plotted to “kill as many people as possible” at a California high school, it is an easy time to be despondent over the state of the United States. I cannot discredit young people for resigning themselves to a bleak future where we accept the gunning down of our peers and friends in their places of learning and worship.

Continue reading

A Few Good Men, or: My Father, the Feminist

This post is an odd sort of throwback that is long overdue. It is largely based on an old (successful, to the extent that even matters) scholarship application for a wonderful organization called the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers (GAWL). Check it out.

I stand by everything written in the now almost three year-old essay, but my understanding of some of the issues I address are deeper and more nuanced. More troublingly, my understanding of the issues facing young women is additionally deeper. Sadly, much of this understanding comes from unfortunate personal experience in the last year in particular. Happily, these experiences have expanded my world, enlightening me to new ways of thinking, strengthening my empathy, and bolstering the fervour with which I embrace some of the issues most important to me.

Featured image
Dad-o, myself and little sister back when we were all much more attractive.

I am now, incidentally, far more grateful in particular for the wonderful male role models I have had in my life. (Side note: this in no way diminishes the many amazing women I have in my life, but I feel as if I spend far more time talking about wonderful women, and need to acknowledge the wonderful men in my life).

Continue reading