This Week in “Help Me Not Be Such an Ass”: Feb 23-March 2

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Here’s some of what I’ve turned to this week, with your help:*

A video about Slomo, a man who spends his days and sometimes nights rollerskating to music on the boardwalks of Pacific Beach. These stretches are where I walk with my family and dearest friends, and have for a sentimentally long time. When I was a sophomore in college, Rio bought me a pair of roller skates, and this boardwalk is where I went to try to learn, despite my underdeveloped vestibular sense. I often went at three in the morning, and seeing this man do this makes me feel a lot of things at once. A taste of his own words:

“What we’re gonna do is, let the music determine everything.”

Speaking of people in what Jungians call “The Middle Passage” (when you don’t know who you are anymore, when what used to work doesn’t anymore, and you lose your shit) : “They’re what we in America call assholes, and I was one of them.”

The people who cheer for Slomo are cheering for one person who got away…who found some freedom, and doesn’t apologize.”***

(Thanks, Greg.)

The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin. I got all my schooling without being handed James Baldwin, and I didn’t know to seek him out. That Baldwinlessness seems like so much wasted time.

The Root on Selma, Common, and John Legend.

Southern Poverty Law Center’s video on Ashely Diamond: SPLC has filed a federal lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Corrections on behalf of a transgender woman who has been denied medically necessary treatment and repeatedly sexually assaulted while incarcerated.

SURJ’s toolkit on organizing white people for racial justice. This is full of links, and full of help. And this picture:

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An interview with Kimberlé Crenshaw, whose theory of intersectionality is what people are referencing when they raise objections to Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech (the it-left-people-out kind of objections).

This was another one of those weeks where most of the help I got came from just being near the people who teach me about living by being their own selves.

That’s it for this week. If you have suggestions for not being such an ass, I’ll always take them.

Love,

Sarah

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Notes:

*I’m feeling very appreciative of everyone who helps, or points me towards help, again and again, because any progress towards not being such an Ass is so fleeting, is just a crooked finger inviting the need for more help not being such an Ass about a whole new set of things. It’s no one’s job to help me not be such an Ass; in Anne Lamott’s original Fourth Great Prayer, I think she’s asking God. I’m not asking God. Even though a lot of what I turn to is connected to people historically and currently marginalized by our society who are willing to share their experiences and perspectives, it is not the job of people who are marginalized to do this sharing, this education. It is our obligation (I think it’s a moral obligation and my very 22-year-old self wrote my undergraduate thesis on ETHICS so THERE) to stay vulnerable, watchful, and receptive.**

**from Kate Cowie’s “Finding Merlin”

***If you worry that this is a “(you have the means to) Follow Your Blisssssss!!! (because you were born as a member of the defined norm)” kind of thing, let me say that I found it much more an indictment of the American societal push towards unconscious deference toward outer authority than anything else. Also, I am not knocking Joseph Campbell. I hear his voice in my head a lot and I’m glad for it.


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