#ElliotRodgerFunFact: Suffering no lack of privilege or connection

I’ve learned more about the Nice Guy Mass Murderer since my post on Saturday. For example, he actively advocated for women not to have power to decide whom they fuck. That goes beyond rape apologia into rape advocacy. He was especially angry about men of color socializing with pretty white women. He was biracial (white father/Asian mother) and identified overwhelmingly with whiteness. He characterized women as “evil, sadistic beasts” for sleeping with the wrong men—wait, not even sleeping with them, necessarily, just hanging out with them!, which sort of makes sense about as much as “the food is terrible and the portions are too small” until you see that he wasn’t thinking of women as companions, but as objects to possess and control. I started a hashtag on Twitter: #ElliotRodgerFunFact. Nowhere near the scale of #YesAllWomen, but I’m still pleased to see other people using it.

The mass murder didn’t start outside. Three people were found dead in Rodger’s apartment. At least two of them were his roommates.

This story here from the AP makes me feel a lot worse for Rodger’s parents. I’m sure we’ll wait a bit longer and find out more about how they brought him up, and they’ll be at least partly culpable for his developing such a heinous view of the world, but for now, it seems that his parents were trying to keep their son from joining the ranks of mass murderers. They were really trying, but how do you really handle it when you think your son is a danger to society? He was seeing two counselors, which is noteworthy, and his mother (her name is Chin Rodger, though she’s not named at the Yahoo link) saw his videos in April and got in touch with one of the counselors. The story sounds very much like the police department is trying to deflect blame for not recognizing the danger Elliot Rodger posed when they had the chance. The counselor called a mental health service, which called the police, and the police say they weren’t aware of any videos. Maybe the part about him making homicidally threatening videos got lost in the chain of communication, but that’s the sort of question the police might have tried to ask before they made their assessment.

I’m also hearing from various sources that Elliot Rodger was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is part of the autism spectrum, as a small child. ACCORDING TO FAMILY FRIEND MR. SIMON ASTAIRE, this is untrue. The family long SUSPECTED that Elliot was on the autism spectrum, but he was never diagnosed. It’s cringe-worthy to see speculation about Nice Guy Mass Murderer being an Aspie, as it’s inevitably followed by people equating Asperger’s to mental illness, and mental illness to his inclination to violence. Here’s the thing: researchers have tried to find a correlation between autism and violence. They’ve found no such correlation. EVEN IF our Nice Guy Mass Murderer was on the spectrum, it should not be used to portray autism as a cause of violence.

Whatever mental health problems our Nice Guy Mass Murderer had, he wasn’t left to struggle all alone. He was seeing therapists and his parents were involved in his life. Whatever mental health issues were troubling him, he was able to present to the police as a nice kid, so they let him go on his merry way. He was not isolated, or neglected, or in such dire mental health that he lacked control over his actions.

ETA the part about Rodger not actually being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

“White flight was not an accident”

I’ve spent most of my workday alternating between doing my job and reading this incredibly powerful and amazing article by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

It is so consistently brilliant that it’s tricky to excerpt, but I’ll dish up a few appetizers.

In the 1920s, Jim Crow Mississippi was, in all facets of society, a kleptocracy. The majority of the people in the state were perpetually robbed of the vote—a hijacking engineered through the trickery of the poll tax and the muscle of the lynch mob.


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Your voice speaks English but your face says otherwise.

See the previous post? Still wondering what exactly the problem is, and when I’ll take that stick out of my ass and stop punishing someone for being friendly? There’s also this shit here:

White privilege is when you don’t get ask by your teacher if you are in ESL and need a translator even though he has heard me speak fluent English and then proceeds to ask if I speak Chinese

This kind of prejudice can interfere with a kid’s pursuit of an education. When you play “Guess the ethnicity!” via use of foreign languages, and expect us to act like it’s no big deal because you’re “just” “trying” to be “friendly”? You’re contributing to a larger problem. Knock it off.

Free CeCe, with Laverne Cox!

I have shamelessly copy-pasted this from This Is White Privilege:


FREE CECE, the new documentary with Laverne Cox, explores the roles race, class and gender played in CeCe McDonald’s case. McDonald’s claim of self defense was rejected by Hennepin County prosecutors. The documentary explores the implications of CeCe’s story as a survivor, housing trans women in male prisons, and the practice of keeping trans women in solitary confinement.
Please take a moment to visit the site and contribute a tax deductible donation so this important work can continue.

If you can’t donate, then signal boost if you can. This deserves all the attention it can get!

We need to create.

Fellow white female creatives? Step up your game. Time to start actually making stuff that isn’t stolen from people of color, built on their backs or ripped from their psychological hides. This shit, for example? Not cool.

Peggy Noland, a white designer from Kansas City who’s worked with stars like Rihanna and Miley Cyrus, has a deeply problematic new project out: a ridiculous line of t-shirts and dresses featuring Oprah’s head photoshopped onto nude bodies.


The dress is anything but “lighthearted.” She chose to use Oprah’s image — as the most powerful black woman in entertainment  who’s waged a very public battle over her weight throughout her career— instead of, say, an actual designer, because it’s something that will create a spectacle.

Yeah, that designer called her Naked Oprah line “light-hearted.”

Visit that link, look at the pictures of some of the dresses, and ask yourself: What is really being held up for ridicule, here? How does using Oprah’s face on nude bodies nod to the ridiculousness of the fashion industry? How is Oprah even a part of the fashion industry, beyond the ways that all celebrities help designers sell overpriced clothes?

I don’t even give Peggy Noland the benefit of assuming she actually believes she’s doing anything edgy and subversive at the fashion industry. She’s appropriating the image of an extremely (possibly uniquely) successful black woman for a ridiculous thing we can wear on t-shirts and turtleneck dresses. There’s plenty to criticize about Oprah, but this is freaking juvenile.

We need to push ourselves, find our voices, take risks, and generally build our own shit. Do not use exploitation as a substitute for edginess, do not use “ally” as a shield, and do not rely on prepackaged coolness as a crutch against the hard work of artistic integrity. Never assume you should be exempt from criticism because you’ve done enough. If you want to be subversive, be strong enough to punch up. It doesn’t need to be brilliant right away, but fucking make it yours.

Lily Allen, what is that I don’t even.

If you haven’t seen Lily Allen’s new video, “Hard Out Here,” go look it up on YouTube. I’m sure it won’t be hard to find. Your friends are probably linking it on Facebook already.

So, you’ve seen the video, so compare that with some of the criticism it’s received:

The video is meant to be a critique and satire of popular culture and manages some deserved jabs at Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” videos among others, but in the end it just reduces itself down to elevating Lily Allen’s white female body and objectifying and utterly denigrating those of the black female dancers she deliberately surrounds herself with from start to finish.

Right? Okay. Maybe the criticism seems unfair. Maybe we think the critics just didn’t get her joke, and she wasn’t objectifying her dancers; she was satirizing the way the music industry objectifies them? With that in mind, compare the actual content of the video, including the song lyrics, to Ms. Allen’s response:

Privilege,Superiority and Misconceptions

1. If anyone thinks for a second that I requested specific ethnicities for the video, they’re wrong.

2. If anyone thinks that after asking the girls to audition, I was going to send any of them away because of the colour of their skin, they’re wrong.

3. The message is clear. Whilst I don’t want to offend anyone. I do strive to provoke thought and conversation. The video is meant to be a lighthearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture. It has nothing to do with race, at all.

4. If I could dance like the ladies can, it would have been my arse on your screens; I actually rehearsed for two weeks trying to perfect my twerk, but failed miserably. If I was a little braver, I would have been wearing a bikini too, but I do not and I have chronic cellulite, which nobody wants to see. What I’m trying to say is that me being covered up has nothing to do with me wanting to disassociate myself from the girls, it has more to do with my own insecurities and I just wanted to feel as comfortable as possible on the shoot day.

5. I’m not going to apologise because I think that would imply that I’m guilty of something, but I promise you this, in no way do I feel superior to anyone, except paedophiles, rapists murderers etc., and I would not only be surprised but deeply saddened if I thought anyone came away from that video feeling taken advantage of,or compromised in any way.

6. Ask the ladies yourselves @shalaeuroasia @monique_Lawz @ceodancers @TempleArtist @SelizaShowtime @melycrisp

“It has nothing to do with race, at all”? She must think we have shit for brains.

Oh, and this happened, too:

Nope. You fail. Go sit in the corner and think about what you've done.

Nope. You fail. Go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done.

Which Suzanne Moore is that? Oh, yes, it’s that one.

I don’t expect Ms. Allen to see this, and if she does, I don’t expect her to get anything from it except yet that yet another humorless driver of the White Guilt Bandwagon doesn’t get her use of sarcasm. So I’ll just use her as yet another bad example of responding to accusations of racism. Fellow well-meaning white people, particularly those in creative and performing professions, what can we learn from Ms. Allen’s experiences here?

Sometimes, satire fails. The message you’re trying to get across doesn’t come through. The message that’s “clear” from the Hard Out Here video is not the one that Lily Allen wanted us to get. The video doesn’t suddenly become non-racist, non-objectifying, or non-exploitative simply because she says she didn’t mean it that way.

Punching up is more impressive and effective than punching down. If she’d done more skewering the men who scold her for not staying thin after having two kids, and less slo-mo of her dancers jiggling their asses and pouring champagne on themselves, it would’ve been a better satire.

Asking the backup dancers themselves for “proof” that your video design isn’t problematic doesn’t prove the criticism wrong. It simply means those dancers are trying to make a living and are not inclined to alienate a famous artist who might give them more employment or references in the future.

There is no room to say something like, “if I thought anyone came away from that video feeling taken advantage of,or compromised in any way.” There’s no IF here. People are telling you how they feel about your video. The harm has already happened. It’s worse than people taking offense.

If you’re going to do effective satire, you need to be ready to offend people. “Light-hearted” is no excuse for crappy content.

If you’re in a creative line of work, you need to be able to handle criticism. If people think your music sucks, they’ll tell you. If part of your expression is analysis of sociopolitical issues, you will receive criticism for that, too. If you aim to push back against one type of oppression and your execution contributes to another type of oppression, you will be criticized for that and you will do well to take that feedback seriously rather than throw a tantrum on social media.

Finally: just because you didn’t WANT to be oppressive, doesn’t magically make everything okay. White folks are in no position to determine what is or is not racist. That way lies madness.

Who’s going to tell Richard Cohen to stop digging?

I don’t even know where to start. You may have heard a lot of us lefty smartasses talking about Richard Cohen today. Is it as bad as we make it sound? It’s worse. Trust me, it’s plenty worse. This happened in the Washington Post yesterday. I’ve read the whole column, so I see the guilty passage in context. It’s still bad:

Iowa not only is a serious obstacle for Christie and other Republican moderates, it also suggests something more ominous: the Dixiecrats of old. Officially the States’ Rights Democratic Party, they were breakaway Democrats whose primary issue was racial segregation. In its cause, they ran their own presidential candidate, Strom Thurmond, and almost cost Harry Truman the 1948 election. They didn’t care. Their objective was not to win — although that would have been nice — but to retain institutional, legal racism. They saw a way of life under attack and they feared its loss. Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.

This is part of a column that’s all about explaining why Gov. Chris Christie isn’t a strong GOP candidate for the next President. Mr. Cohen wants to tell us what kind of shape the current GOP is in, and what kind of candidates it wants. It could have been a straightforward, unproblematic piece of writing, except for the part where he says something about people gagging at the sight of a white man married to a black woman and having two biracial kids. This is tied to a “not racist, BUT…” description of the Tea Party. So, shit rained down on Cohen’s head, and he went running to the Huffington Post to insist that we’re being unfair to him.

“The word racist is truly hurtful,” he told The Huffington Post on Tuesday. “It’s not who I am. It’s not who I ever was. It’s just not fair. It’s just not right.”


And those views are not held by the entire Tea Party. “I don’t think everybody in the Tea Party is like that, because I know there are blacks in the Tea Party,” he said. “So they’re not all racist, unless I’m going to start doing mind reading about why those black people are there.”

Dude, please stop hitting yourself.

He added, “Look, maybe the word was inappropriate or maybe I could have used a different word. But you’re talking to somebody who has written, I don’t know, 100 columns in favor of homosexual rights, many columns in favor of same sex marriage.”

That…doesn’t answer the question here.

Cohen has been criticized for his comments on race in the past. When asked why he thought it was that he keeps getting caught up in racially charged arguments, he said that it’s because people view him as a liberal and find some of his positions unconventional. “Every once in a while I take an unconventional stance as a liberal — as someone who has always been called a liberal,” he said. “If someone on the right wrote this, no one would care. No one would make a big deal about it but because I veer every once in awhile from orthodoxy, or maybe more than once in awhile, I get plastered this way.”

Maybe you keep getting plastered because you keep saying callous, hurtful shit? Is it the case that many Americans still think white folks and black folks shouldn’t get married and have families together? Sure, of course it’s still the case. Are people who think that way racist? Why, yes, indeed they are. There’s a lot more to undoing racism than acceptance of interracial marriage, BUT, a society that doesn’t accept biracial families is a society that is full of racism. There’s no way around it. And…Cohen’s original column didn’t acknowledge that. It was a really stupid move to include a “not racist, BUT” clause in the same paragraph as a statement that people with “conventional” views find Bill de Blasio’s family gag-worthy. Also, nota bene: if someone is “deeply troubled” about immigration in America, they’re almost certainly full of racism. They’re not frothing over people from Australia or Sweden taking our jobs, is all I’m saying. It was a stupid move to use a “not racist, BUT” clause anywhere, to tell the truth. If you find yourself writing those words, that’s when you need to start the sentence over from scratch. Where he gets really…special, is where after he writes something hurtful, his reaction to the pushback is all about his feelings, his intentions, his reputation. Why not take a moment to think about how Bill de Blasio’s kids feel about knowing that some people think their very existence is gag-worthy? Why not think about how interracial married couples, and biracial people, might feel about seeing such language casually tossed around in a column that simultaneously seeks to minimize that bigotry as people being “deeply troubled” about the acceptance of what was once “avant-garde”? I don’t see anything in his HuffPo interview that shows any concern for the experiences of the people who were insulted by his writing. It’s so very “hurtful” for people to call Richard Cohen racist, but people in mixed-race families apparently have no hurt feelings at all.

The Erasure of Renisha McBride

The Erasure of Renisha McBride

This 19-year-old black woman had a dead cell phone after a car accident in Dearborn Heights, MI. She knocked on a nearby door to ask for help. The homeowner shot her in the back of the head.

  1. The black community should be as outraged for #RenishaMcBride as they were for #TrayvonMartin
  2. @Brandale2221: Wait… The guy who shot #RenishaMcBride was not even taken into custody? …. * throws stuff*” … *throws another lamp*
  3. The murder of #RenishaMcBride is bigger than the PoS who shot her. It’s about the people who’ll make excuses and call it “self-defense.”
  4. To some my mere existence is a justifiable cause for my extermination. I am #RenishaMcBride
  5. What would happen to a black home owner that kills a white teen girl that was there seeking help?#RenishaMcBride

  6. These stories of young black men & women being shot and their killers walking free is too much! RIP #RenishaMcBride and #JonathanFerrell
  7. Black Women deserve justice as well and to be treated and seen as a damn human being #RenishaMcBride
  8. What are we going to do about this, white people? It’s past time. We owe Black people better than this fixing it’s on us. #RenishaMcBride
  9. White people: Please ask Wayne Co prosecutor why the man who shot #RenishaMcBride 4 days ago is not being identified. t.co/bWiBVdcRHp
  10. U don’t have the opportunity 2 show the “content of your character” if you’re murdered 4 simply existing as you were born. #RenishaMcBride
  11. #RenishaMcBride was not murdered in detroit. she was murdered in dearborn heights, a bedroom community that’s 86% white (per 2010 census)
  12. This #RenishaMcBride thing is totally reminding me of my friend Karl, killed by a white man while asking for help. He was shot in the head.
  13. This country has some fucked up priorities when it comes to gun laws. RIP #RenishaMcBride t.co/nbRTkaClzk #fb
  14. Discussing the horrific & depraved murder of #RenishaMcBride or rapid release of her murderer isnt pleasant, but I can’t afford pleasantries
  15. PSA: Do not read the comments on any #RenishaMcBride stories. DO NOT READ THE COMMENTS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
  16. So they’re killing black people for just knocking on doors now #RenishaMcBride smh
  17. anyone thinking dude shot #RenishaMcBride bc he misunderstood her asking for help? come, there’s a bridge i’d like to sell you.
  18. So, she was leaving the porch and he still shot her? #RenishaMcBride
  19. Why are people (media, police, etc.) treating the #RenishaMcBride shooting as anything other than 2nd degree murder?
  20. LET IT BE KNOWN, just how segregated the detroit area is. #RENISHAMCBRIDE WAS NOT KILLED IN DETROIT. she was killed in suburb, dearborn hts
  21. sadly, another car accident victim killed when seeking ‘good samaritan’ assistance #RenishaMcBride #JonathanFerrell t.co/n7YJBrwl6m
  22. Can we also talk about white people who believe that their property is worth more than a human life? #RenishaMcBride
  23. Michigan like the great State of Floriduh has “Stand Your Ground”#RenishaMcBride

  24. Driving while black. Shopping while black. Walking while black. Seeking help when injured…AND BLACK. #postracial #RenishaMcBride
  25. These stories of young black men & women being shot and their killers walking free is too much! RIP #RenishaMcBride and #JonathanFerrell
  26. Erasure: black people getting shot for no reason, white killers getting away with it. #RenishaMcBride
  27. This isn’t the first story I’ve seen this year of a black person asking for help and getting shot & killed 4 their trouble. #RenishaMcBride
  28. The message I’m starting to get from America is “you can’t be black, knock on a white person’s door for help &not die”….#RenishaMcBride
  29. IF she was a white girl, she would have been offered a phone call and something to eat. Let’s call it like it is. #RenishaMcBride
  30. I knocked on a neighbor’s door after I escaped an assault. They helped me. Why couldn’t #RenishaMcBride ask for help after car accident?

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How to Learn About Racism from Romeo Rose

The latest chapter in the sordid saga of walking trainwreck Romeo Rose, aka Sleepless in Austin, is that he has been fired from his day job owing to his newfound notoriety as a towering heap of bigotry. I have screencapped his Facebook announcement from Jezebel:

I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want him on their payroll.

I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want him on their payroll.

I take this as confirmation that Sleepless in Austin is not a hoax. This guy really is who he says he is, and he really thinks that way.

This follows Radar Online’s revelations of his sexts to a New Jersey woman who tried to take up his challenge to find him a mate. (Teal Deer version: he spends way more time thinking about black dick than he has any right to. He has zero interest in a woman’s boundaries, but that hardly comes as a surprise.)

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Ally: that word does not mean what you think it means.

Being an outspoken, visible atheist doesn’t mean you’re committed to social justice. Being an outspoken, visible atheist who likes to pay lip service to certain social justice issues doesn’t mean you’re a model social justice warrior. Exhibit #129,334: JT Eberhard.

There was an incident at a recent atheist conference that made JT uncomfortable, so he turns his discomfort into an occasion to lecture a justifiably angry black woman atheist on how to deal with “ignorant” questions by “naive” visitors.

I am so, so tired of seeing shit like this happen. Not really this, per se:

The problems all started when, during the Q&A of Mandisa Thomas’s talk, a woman asked her what black people were doing to fight black on black crime.  Was the woman’s question naive?  Yes.  Very.  And the naivety resulted in her asking a question that certainly had racist undertones, even if the woman was not intentionally being racist.  Mandisa handled it well.

But then, during the Q&A of Darrel C. Smith’s talk, Bria Crutchfield stood up and proceeded to give the woman an angry tongue lashing.  This went on for about five minutes (or maybe it just seemed like that long).  While Bria did answer the woman’s question, it was very embarrassing to the woman and trailed off into a number of red herrings such as “I’m here, get over it” as if anybody was suggesting that Bria or black atheists were unwelcome at the conference or silently sneered at by…anybody.

I mean, I’m not tired of seeing women like Ms. Crutchfield get their rage on in a clearly rage-worthy moment. I’m tired of high-profile, privilege-blind “skeptics” presume to play the Great Communicator and “rationally” explain to the hysterical “other” types how we’d all get along so much better if only they could be nicer to people who insult their humanity.

What other information might we like to see about the incident in question? From a commenter at JT’s blog:

Seeing that you stated that you left the room during Bria’s “outburst” I assume you did not hear her breakdown into tears at the end. I also assume that you were not present at the beginning of Bria’s talk where she apologized and clarified a few points.

If you would have witnessed the entirety of the “event” I don’t think you would have seen it as anything other than Bria’s frustration in having to educate people in a place that she hoped was already beyond that. It is often our “allies” that we get the most frustrated with, since for better or worse, we hold them to a higher standard because we hold them in higher regard.

When you want to see someone get angry about something because she just loves to have an excuse to get angry, keep following this blog. It happens sometimes. Ms. Crutchfield’s “tirade” was not the behavior of a woman who was looking for a fight and happened to get her wish; it was the reaction of a woman who was at the end of her rope, has had more than her fill of this derailment tactic, and knows far better than JT what it really means when someone asks about how blacks are combating “black-on-black crime.” In the comment section of Jen’s post, PZ Myers understands the feeling:

I’ve been where Bria was. No, not specifically, I’m a white dude…but I’ve had those experiences where someone says something so clueless and stupid and offensive that I’m rocked back and don’t rebut it right away, and then the rage simmers and builds and has to erupt somewhere. Usually, for me, in a blog post. Bria just erupted in a Q&A.

That question — “what are black people doing to fight black on black crime?” — is outrageously stupid. It’s the equivalent in inanity of a creationist telling me that evolution is just a theory, or that if evolution is true, why are there monkeys? It’s the kind of question only someone totally ignorant of the subject on which she is pontificating could ask. Naive? Fuck no. Dumb as dirt and a dozen times as damaging. She needed something more significant than just information — she needed a kick in the ass.

Jen points out that JT’s criticism is a load of tone-trolling, and that he has a long history of refusing to learn anything from private explanations of social issues which he has demanded from his friends. Anger isn’t the problem, nor is it inappropriate to call out public displays of racism in an equally public setting. The issue here is not that Ms. Crutchfield was unfair to the “what about black-on-black crime?” questioner—even JT admits that Bria answered the question!—it’s that her anger made JT uncomfortable.

Sometimes, making people uncomfortable is the only way to make them think. That is assuming they’re willing to learn anything new, which it appears JT isn’t:

Lately there’s been a lot of this attitude in the atheist movement, that every misstep out of naivety or ignorance, even if it’s insulting, makes someone a prime target for a shout down in a “public room” – as if humiliation and shame, while sometimes the proper tools, are always the proper tools.  When did we forget that people in the atheist movement are our friends and allies?

Basically, every clause in the above quoted paragraph is full of wrongness and dishonesty. Ain’t nobody got time to explain everything that’s erroneous about what he just said. I will address this much: it is not up to JT Eberhard to decide who is a friend or ally to Bria Crutchfield or anyone else dealing with real-life shit that he doesn’t understand. An ally is as an ally does, and a halfway-decent ally in this case would have listened to the substance of her anger rather than tell her how she “should” feel about hearing an insulting question for the umpteenth time.

If you bail out on ally-ship because someone got too angry for your liking, you weren’t really an ally to begin with. People who are paying attention to racism, misogyny, heterosexism and misogynoir (specifically, hatred of black women–I love learning new words!), and most especially those who have to deal with this shit in their lived experiences, have every right to be angry, and those who are “just asking questions” which have been done to death a million times already, have given up the right to play innocent.

Want to be a good ally? To start: shut up and listen. For example: try expending more mental energy to understand the anger of someone who’s reacting to racism than the one who set her off. In the information age, where Google is the best friend we always wanted, it is increasingly inexcusable to be uninformed about social justice issues at the time we bring loaded questions into a public setting. The mental gymnastics required to assume such questions come from a place of naiveté, rather than hostility, are a waste of oxygen and glucose.

Without anger, change would be impossible.