"I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game."

Toni Morrison (via jaegerjaques)

I’ve already blogged this before but it basically sums up my entire philosophy much better than I ever could so here we are.

(via kellyzen)

silversarcasm:

[Gifset: Laverne Cox speaks at the GLAAD media awards, she says,

"Each and every one of us has the capacity to be an oppressor. I want to encourage each and every one of us to interrogate how we might be an oppressor, and how we might be able to become liberators for ourselves and each other."]

femmeanddangerous:

(x)

Is it still a dystopia if it’s really happening?

diversityinya:

By Alexandra Duncan

image

Recently, I was discussing the difference between dystopian fiction and post-apocalyptica with some friends and fellow writers. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell which category a book maps most closely to because writers purposefully genre-bend or blur the boundaries. Sometimes a book ends up being labeled one thing or another for marketing purposes or we have to pick one thing to call a book for brevity’s sake. Sometimes a book is simply mislabeled.

The librarian in me is fascinated by this taxonomy and wants to spend her afternoon making Venn diagrams. What’s that? No Venn diagrams? Not even a small one? Ugh, okay.

So, what makes something dystopian rather than post-apocalyptic?  Usually in order for a society to become a dystopia, its creators have to have started out with the intention that it would be a utopia – a perfect world that circumvents the messy everyday problems we suffer from, like war, heartbreak, and the danger of free will. And then something has to go horribly, catastrophically wrong with that utopia. It has to fail and become a nightmare version of what its creators intended – a dystopia – usually through order being valued above all else. They’re often meant to be a warning about what we might become. Think George Orwell’s 1984 or Allie Condie’s Matched.

Sometimes, though, an aspect of a book will map so closely to reality that I find myself questioning whether the book should really be called dystopian, or if it’s something else altogether. For example, my own novel, Salvage, which occasionally ends up labeled as dystopian, includes both a polygamist society where teenage girls are married off to older men and a whole city of people who earn their livelihood by harvesting recyclable refuse from a floating trash dump in the Pacific Ocean. Both of these situations exist in the real world. Teenage girls are forced in polygamist marriages with older men. People really do live in trash dumps and try to make a living picking through garbage and recyclables.

image

(Garbage dump outside Managua, Nicaragua – 1999.  I was there with a group of other teenagers from the non-profit Witness for Peace.)

These situations aren’t the result of a utopian experiment gone wrong, they’re part of the chaotic, ugly nature of the world. They’re not a nightmare scenario we’re being warned against, they’re the everyday reality for millions of people worldwide. They’re the result of entropy, not order.

That leads me down a frightening path, because entropy and chaos are the defining characteristics of the post-apocalyptic novel. In post-apocalyptica, people’s lives aren’t planned to a stifling degree, as they are in dystopias. They have to fight to survive from one moment to the next, with no sense of security, no plan for the future. And if those things are as true of the real world as they are of books like Mindy McGinnis’s Not a Drop to Drink or Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker, does that make the real world post-apocalyptic?

I was reading a blog post by Victoria Law recently that posed an interesting question – Why would readers want to escape to a world that so closely mirrors the injustices and horrors they face in everyday life? If, for example, people live lives that resemble a dystopian novel (constantly being stopped and asked for identification by police) or a post-apocalyptic novel (living in constant deprivation of food, water, medical care, etc.), what purpose does reading about a similar world serve? It’s certainly not escape. It’s not a warning about what could be. It’s a reflection of reality.

I don’t believe there are easy answers to the problems most people in the world face on a daily basis. I spent a long time as a teenager and young adult wishing I could fix everything and stop all the world’s suffering, only to end up too emotionally exhausted to really be of help to anyone. What I’ve come to believe is that all of us can do small things in our everyday lives to make the world better. (See this page on my web site for ideas.) As for writers, if we remember that some people are actually living our worst nightmares, it gives us a chance not simply to provide the lucky among us with a metaphor and a warning, but to give voice to the people whose lives our stories reflect. It gives us the chance to let other people know they’re not alone. It allows us to mirror the problems of reality in a new way – a way that might just lead to people changing their minds and then changing the world.

image

Alexandra Duncan is a writer and librarian. Her first novel, Salvage, is due to be released by Greenwillow Books on April 1, 2014. Her short stories have been featured in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy. She loves anything that gets her hands dirty – pie-baking, leatherworking, gardening, drawing, and rolling sushi, to name a few. You can find her online at Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook and her web site.

"

If I put a gun to someone’s head, say, a 30-year-old healthy male, pull the trigger, and kill him, assuming an average life expectancy of, say, 84, you can argue that possibly 54 years of life [were] stolen from that person in a direct act of violence.

However, if a person is born into poverty in the midst of an abundant society where it is statistically proven that it would hurt no one to facilitate meeting the basic needs of that person and yet they die at the age of 30 due to heart disease, which has been found to statistically relate to those who endure the stress and effects of low socioeconomic status, is that death, the removal of those 54 years once again, an act of violence?

And the answer is ‘Yes, it is.’

You see, our legal system has conditioned us to think that violence is a direct behavioral act. The truth is that violence is a process, not an act, and it can take many forms.

You cannot separate any outcome from the system by which it is oriented.

"
Peter Joseph, from this lecture. 
knottingwolves:

animefreak40k:

tinyorc:

This is one of the most accurate things I have ever seen.

…that about sums up my observations…

knottingwolves:

animefreak40k:

tinyorc:

This is one of the most accurate things I have ever seen.

…that about sums up my observations…

cscclibrary:

[Image: B/w portrait photo of Ida B. Wells]
Ida B. Wells was a social worker, journalist, and teacher best known for her anti-lynching crusade.  Exceptionally bold, at the age of 22 she sued a railroad company who threw her off a train for refusing to ride in a segregated car; at considerable personal risk, she spent much of her life publicly lecturing and writing against the practice of lynching.  Using careful statistical research and observation to support her claims, she asserted that lynching was less about protecting white womanhood and more about keeping African-Americans in a subordinate social and legal position—literally, that it was an act of terrorism by whites.
Wells’ confrontational approach arose from the urgency of her cause, and from her realization that a placatory attitude was insufficient against violent, systemic racism.  Wells has been the subject of several biographies, two of which are on the shelves of the CS Library.

cscclibrary:

[Image: B/w portrait photo of Ida B. Wells]

Ida B. Wells was a social worker, journalist, and teacher best known for her anti-lynching crusade.  Exceptionally bold, at the age of 22 she sued a railroad company who threw her off a train for refusing to ride in a segregated car; at considerable personal risk, she spent much of her life publicly lecturing and writing against the practice of lynching.  Using careful statistical research and observation to support her claims, she asserted that lynching was less about protecting white womanhood and more about keeping African-Americans in a subordinate social and legal position—literally, that it was an act of terrorism by whites.

Wells’ confrontational approach arose from the urgency of her cause, and from her realization that a placatory attitude was insufficient against violent, systemic racism.  Wells has been the subject of several biographies, two of which are on the shelves of the CS Library.

springslotus:

bogleech:

shezzainblue:

thinksquad:

Utah is ending homelessness by giving people an apartment or home.
Earlier this month, Hawaii State representative Tom Bower (D) began walking the streets of his Waikiki district with a sledgehammer, and smashing shopping carts used by homeless people. “Disgusted” by the city’s chronic homelessness problem, Bower decided to take matters into his own hands — literally. He also took to rousing homeless people if he saw them sleeping at bus stops during the day.
Bower’s tactics were over the top, and so unpopular that he quickly declared “Mission accomplished,” and retired his sledgehammer. But Bower’s frustration with his city’s homelessness problem is just an extreme example of the frustration that has led cities to pass measures that effective deal with the homeless by criminalizing homelessness.
City council members in Columbia, South Carolina, concerned that the city was becoming a “magnet for homeless people,” passed an ordinance giving the homeless the option to either relocate or get arrested. The council later rescinded the ordinance, after backlash from police officers, city workers, and advocates.
Last year, Tampa, Florida — which had the most homeless people for a mid-sized city — passed an ordinance allowing police officers to arrest anyone they saw sleeping in public, or “storing personal property in public.” The city followed up with a ban on panhandling downtown, and other locations around the city.
Philadelphia took a somewhat different approach, with a law banning the feeding of homeless people on city parkland. Religious groups objected to the ban, and announced that they would not obey it.
Raleigh, North Carolina took the step of asking religious groups to stop their longstanding practice of feeding the homeless in a downtown park on weekends. Religious leaders announced that they would risk arrest rather than stop.
This trend makes Utah’s accomplishment even more noteworthy. In eight years, Utah has quietly reduced homelessness by 78 percent, and is on track to end homelessness by 2015.
How did Utah accomplish this? Simple. Utah solved homelessness by giving people homes. In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail says for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker. So, the state began giving away apartments, with no strings attached. Each participant in Utah’s Housing First program also gets a caseworker to help them become self-sufficient, but the keep the apartment even if they fail. The program has been so successful that other states are hoping to achieve similar results with programs modeled on Utah’s.

This is amazing. 

People have been saying for years that outright giving away homes to the homeless would actually save money in the long run but I had no idea ANYWHERE in America had the balls to try it.
Also props to those Churches who were told to stop feeding homeless people and said (in a more Church-friendly way, I’m assuming) fuck the police.

Hey look when you actually help people, everybody benefits.

springslotus:

bogleech:

shezzainblue:

thinksquad:

Utah is ending homelessness by giving people an apartment or home.

Earlier this month, Hawaii State representative Tom Bower (D) began walking the streets of his Waikiki district with a sledgehammer, and smashing shopping carts used by homeless people. “Disgusted” by the city’s chronic homelessness problem, Bower decided to take matters into his own hands — literally. He also took to rousing homeless people if he saw them sleeping at bus stops during the day.

Bower’s tactics were over the top, and so unpopular that he quickly declared “Mission accomplished,” and retired his sledgehammer. But Bower’s frustration with his city’s homelessness problem is just an extreme example of the frustration that has led cities to pass measures that effective deal with the homeless by criminalizing homelessness.

City council members in Columbia, South Carolina, concerned that the city was becoming a “magnet for homeless people,” passed an ordinance giving the homeless the option to either relocate or get arrested. The council later rescinded the ordinance, after backlash from police officers, city workers, and advocates.

Last year, Tampa, Florida — which had the most homeless people for a mid-sized city — passed an ordinance allowing police officers to arrest anyone they saw sleeping in public, or “storing personal property in public.” The city followed up with a ban on panhandling downtown, and other locations around the city.

Philadelphia took a somewhat different approach, with a law banning the feeding of homeless people on city parkland. Religious groups objected to the ban, and announced that they would not obey it.

Raleigh, North Carolina took the step of asking religious groups to stop their longstanding practice of feeding the homeless in a downtown park on weekends. Religious leaders announced that they would risk arrest rather than stop.

This trend makes Utah’s accomplishment even more noteworthy. In eight years, Utah has quietly reduced homelessness by 78 percent, and is on track to end homelessness by 2015.

How did Utah accomplish this? Simple. Utah solved homelessness by giving people homes. In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail says for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker. So, the state began giving away apartments, with no strings attached. Each participant in Utah’s Housing First program also gets a caseworker to help them become self-sufficient, but the keep the apartment even if they fail. The program has been so successful that other states are hoping to achieve similar results with programs modeled on Utah’s.

This is amazing. 

People have been saying for years that outright giving away homes to the homeless would actually save money in the long run but I had no idea ANYWHERE in America had the balls to try it.

Also props to those Churches who were told to stop feeding homeless people and said (in a more Church-friendly way, I’m assuming) fuck the police.

Hey look when you actually help people, everybody benefits.

ilovett:

spacemuffinz:

givemeinternet:

Temps are supposed to drop tonight so someone in Ottawa, Ontario is placing these around the city

it’s stuff like this that almost brings a tear to my eye because people can be so sweet and if that’s a handmade scarf someone made for the soul purpose of decorating statues to give to people then just rip my heart out i’m done

They found the person doing it!

ilovett:

spacemuffinz:

givemeinternet:

Temps are supposed to drop tonight so someone in Ottawa, Ontario is placing these around the city

it’s stuff like this that almost brings a tear to my eye because people can be so sweet and if that’s a handmade scarf someone made for the soul purpose of decorating statues to give to people then just rip my heart out i’m done

They found the person doing it!