Trying Something New

For months now, maybe even close to a year, I’ve been gently nudging Mini to post some of her really wonderful poetry on here (don’t worry, she’s fairly compensated!) but she’s understandably shy & rather busy too. So I thought why don’t I take the first plunge and stop being a hypocrite. I am in fact going to be a plagiarist and also title this, in Mini’s style,


Some Sort of Poem

for some reason

I am afraid

someday it might be like

I’ve just imagined you

all along


we’re all familiar

with the old adage

that you die a second death

when someone utters

your name

one final time


What of the living?

Do we all

lose you again?

When we forget

When we might not even


that we’ve said what

made us think of you

one last time


meaning to


if our voices were

so powerful

that we could

(even unknowingly)

deliver you into oblivion

why have I not

been able to

speak you

into existence.


Another Gem for The Day

“I accept my emotions and I allow them to serve their purpose.” – Tiana Major9

That’s all, that’s the whole post.

Elizabeth Holmes

Andrea Circle Bear

Diana Sanchez

If your feminism doesn’t acknowledge how gender based oppression is compounded with racial subjugation, then equality is not what you’re really about. That’s all.

For Messy Girls

“Then of course there’s the gender piece of the way that I was shamed for just living in chaos all the time. Because there is this idea, and this is why I’m such a good feminist, because I’m such a bad woman, there’s this idea that if you’re a girl, if you’re a woman, you’re just naturally tidy.” – Kimberly N. Foster

Check out her full video here:

I got dragged on Twitter because I’m a hoarder. Let’s discuss it.

Thinking of Amanda today

It’s now a year on since the Covid-19 pandemic shut down major cities in China, and that same pandemic & its tandem economic downturn has led to a lot of talk about Medicare for All and cancelling student loan debts during this past election cycle and in the middle of our transition into a different White House administration. I think my sister would have been very glad to hear these stirrings. For one so burdened by how broken our educational and healthcare systems are, I imagine news these days might be very exciting. Thinking about what a phone call might be like, I can almost hear her voice again.

The Truth in Black and White: An Apology from the Kansas City Star

So yesterday the Kansas City Star shared a monumental piece, the first of many they hope. This is how it began:

Today we are telling the story of a powerful local business that has done wrong.

For 140 years, it has been one of the most influential forces in shaping Kansas City and the region. And yet for much of its early history — through sins of both commission and omission — it disenfranchised, ignored and scorned generations of Black Kansas Citians. It reinforced Jim Crow laws and redlining. Decade after early decade it robbed an entire community of opportunity, dignity, justice and recognition.

That business is The Kansas City Star.

You can read the rest of the article here.

4 Years.

Today makes year 4 since my sister Amanda (the OG Dr. Wise Money) committed suicide.

Today I’ve made my bed, put away laundry, organized my spare closet, and taken a bath.

Later I’m going to paint my nails for the first time since at least March, maybe last year. And I’m going to sip on rare whiskeys we’ve been gifted in the past. These bottles have sat unopened year after year because I keep waiting for the truly worthy occasion when opening them wouldn’t feel like “waste.”

That’s how I am. Cautious, inward, slow-moving. To me Amanda always seemed like she was rushing everywhere, bursting at the seams, explosive. Her conversation, her laugh, her temper– I mostly found her excited and exhausting. I’ve despaired over the seemingly irreconcilable gap between our spaces and our paces. But now there’s nothing left but to make peace with the void where she had been.

And life can only be as good as you’re willing to make it– so nails and whiskey it is! In honor of my sister who was always a brighter, more vibrant character, I’m living today a little more bold, a little more colorful– a little more in her spirit.

Some People President Trump Has Granted Executive Clemency

Hi, did you watch the last presidential debate? If so, do you remember when Biden said Trump might have granted clemency to 20 something individuals but the Obama administration granted clemency to over a thousand people? Well I heard that and I wondered, who are the exceptionally lucky few that have received this special gift from President Trump? Below are truncated bios of 14 such individuals.

Joe Arpaio

Infamous racist and anti-immigrant Sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona from 1992-2016. Here are some highlights from Wikipedia (you can click on his name for full details):

Federal Judge Neil V. Wake ruled in 2008 and 2010 that the Maricopa County jails violated the constitutional rights of inmates in medical and other care-related issues.

Arpaio on video giddily calling his Tent City Jail a concentration camp.

Under his watch, the Mariscopa County Sheriff’s Office cleared the majority of their cases by exception, while failing to investigate over 400 sex crimes between 2004-2007, including at least 32 reports of child molestation.

Arpaio used his office to harass his political opponents. His bogus investigations resulted in at least 11 lawsuits against him and MSCO, settlements for which cost Arizona taxpayers $44.4 million. This in addition to an investigation from The Republic that found Arpaio’s office had misspent upwards of $111 million since 2004.

Arpaio & MSCO were repeatedly sued for their racial profiling, including by the USDOJ. Finally in July 2017, Arpaio was found guilty of contempt of court for the failure to comply with court orders to end this racist practice. Less than one month later, President Trump pardoned Arpaio, praising him on Twitter.

Arpaio was Trump’s first official pardon. Notably Arpaio is an ardent Trump supporter and a prominent figure in the birther conspiracy regarding former President Obama.

Michael Behenna

Behenna, an ex-lieutenant in the US Army, murdered Ali Mansur Mohamed, an Iraqi man detained by the military intelligence on suspicion of his connection to an attack on Behenna’s platoon. The investigation found insufficient evidence linking Ali Mansur to the attack, and Behenna was responsible for escorting him back to town. Instead Behenna executed him.

President Trump granted Behenna a full pardon, in a move that the ACLU called “a presidential endorsement of a murder that violated the military’s own code of justice.”

Conrad Black

Black is the wealthy son of a business mogul father. Black has a career in rightwing media and publishing, musing on history and politics. In 2007, Black was convicted on 3 counts of fraud and 1 count of obstruction of justice, although appeals saw 2 of his fraud convictions vacated. Black is a longterm friend and an staunch supporter of President Trump, going so far as writing a flattering biography titled “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.

In 2019, President Trump pardoned his old friend.

Rod Blagojevich

You may remember Blagojevich as the former Governor of Illinois who tried to sell the Senate seat left by President Barrack Obama’s election. Blagojevich did not attend his own trial, and instead embarked on a media blitz to plead his innocence. In spring 2010, an impeached Blogojevich starred on season 9 of The Celebrity Apprentice.

In February 2020, President Trump commuted Blagojevich’s sentence without a pardon of his criminal convictions. Notably, Blagojevich continues to deny wrongdoing, claiming he was the victim of a scheme against him. Besides a “Trump-ocrat”, Blagojevich also repeatedly called himself a political prisoner.

Dinesh D’Souza

D’Souza is a far right conspiracy theory propagandist. In his books and films, he has defended American slavery and European colonialism. His 2007 book claims that the American cultural left incited anger and hatred of Muslim extremists, leading to the 9/11 attacks. His 2010 book on former President Obama groundlessly alleges that Obama was “living out his father’s dreams” such that “the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo Tribesman of the 1950s”, whom D’Souza characterize as a “philandering, inebriated African socialist.” His 2017 book espouses his baseless likening of the 2016 Democratic Party to the Third Reich.

D’Souza wrote and co-directed a 2012 smear film of then President Obama, which the Associated Press fact checked into oblivion. His 2016 smear film of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party received endorsement from Donald Trump. His 2018 film comparing President Donald Trump to President Abraham Lincoln enjoyed a showing in Washington D.C. co-hosted by President Trump’s son, Don Jr.

In 2014, D’Souza pled guilty to one felony count of making illegal contributions in the name of others. Two months before his son would co-host the special showing of D’Souza’s pro-Trump film, President Trump pardoned D’Souza.

Mathew L. Golsteyn

Golsteyn, a former Green Beret, was suspected in the killing of an Afghan man, whom he alleged was a bomb maker for the Taliban. The original investigation resulted in no charge, but saw Golsteyn stripped of his silver star, Special Forces tab, and issued a letter of reprimand for violation of the U.S. military’s rules of engagement. During one television appearance, Golsteyn confirmed his killing of the man, causing the Army to reopen the case and charge him with murder.

In December 2018, President Trump tweeted he would review Golsteyn’s case. The following year President Trump pardoned Golsteyn along with others accused or convicted of war crimes. Trump’s pardon meant that Golsteyn would not be charged.

Dwight Lincoln Hammond Jr. & Steven Dwight Hammond

The Hammonds are a father and son cattle rancher duo who over the course of decades leveled many horrifying threats at federal officials and committed multiple arsons on federal land in their ongoing dispute with various federal agencies over access to protected wildlife areas.

In 2018 President Trump commuted the pair’s sentences as well as granting them full pardon of the crimes for which they were convicted.

It’s important to note that while the Hammonds served as inspiration for the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the two disavowed the standoff led by extremists.

Bernard Kerik

Kerik is a former policeman appointed by then Mayor Rudy Giuliani first deputy corrections commissioner then NY Police Commissioner. During his tenure Kerik routinely abused the powers of his office, including using “an apartment originally set aside for weary rescue workers at ground zero as a nest for an extramarital affair”. Kerik pled guilty to 8 counts of federal felony charges including tax fraud and making false statements. He served 3 years and 5 months in minimum security.

Giuliani joined President Trump’s legal team in 2018, less than 2 years later, Giuliani’s old friend Kerik was pardoned.

“Scooter” Libby

Libby was an advisor to former Vice President Dick Cheney. As former fellow WH staffer Mary Matalin tellingly describes: “He is to the vice president what the vice president is to the president[.]” Libby, a war criminal, instrumental in leading the US to invade Iraq on falsified intelligence, was ultimately fell by his involvement in a CIA leak. (BTW, for a refresher on the Iraq War/to familiarize yourself with the second Bush administration, I recommend the 2018 film Vice) Liddy did not serve any prison time as then President Bush commuted his sentence before it even began, in an exceptional use of the President’s power.

Liddy was the third person pardoned by President Trump, after Arpaio and Kristian Saucier.

Clint Lorance

Lorance was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Immediately after his appointment, Lorance showed he was wholly unfit, during incidents such as:

appellant [(Lorance)] encountered an Afghan villager with a young child. The villager was asking to move some concertina wire on the road leading to Strong Point Payenzai that was impeding his ability to work on his farm. Appellant told the villager that if he touched the concertina wire, he and his family would be killed.

The next day, appellant ordered two of his soldiers to go up into one of the towers and shoot harassing fire in the general direction of villagers.

A day later, Lorance “ordered PFC Skelton to engage the motorcycle. PFC Skelton complied and fired his weapon, but missed.” Following which, “over his portable radio, [Lorance] ordered the platoon’s gun truck to engage the men [….] killing two of the riders and wounding the third.” For this Lorance was ultimately convicted and “sentenced to 20 years in prison, forfeiture of all pay, and dismissal from the Army.”

Since his conviction, Lorance drew immense support from rightwing activists, campaigning relentlessly for his pardon. In November 2019, President Trump pardoned Lorance, after Lorance had served 6 years in prison.

Sholom Rubashkin

Rubashkin was the CEO of his father’s meatpacking plant, which became the only one authorized by Israel’s Orthodox rabbinate to export beef to Israel. While the business grew enormously, it also came under fire for its deplorable treatment of animals. In 2004, secretly filmed footage inside the plant:

showed that after steers were cut by a ritual slaughterer, other workers pulled out the animals’ tracheas with a hook to speed bleeding. In the tape, animals were shown staggering around the killing pen with their windpipes dangling out, slamming their heads against walls and soundlessly trying to bellow. One animal took three minutes to stop moving.

Additionally, the plant was cited 250 times in 2006 alone for noncompliance with food safety standards. The EPA also filed a complaint for the plant’s wastewater treatment in 2004. A 2008 raid, resulting in the arrest of 389 illegal immigrants, revealed at least 29 children worked at the plant. Rubashkin was charged with 67 counts of child labor law violations. However, “after winning the financial fraud conviction, federal prosecutors dismissed all immigration-related charges.”

An investigation by the Washington Post found that “Alan Dershowitz, a Trump ally who defended the president at his impeachment trial, got in a pitch for client Sholom Rubashkin.” President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, was Rubashkin’s most vocal advocate inside the White House, according to two former officials. With broad support in the community, Rubashkin became the first federal prisoner to receive a commutation of the remainder of his sentence by President Trump.

Kristian Saucier

The second ever person to receive Trump’s presidential pardon, Saucier was a Navy petty officer convicted of unlawful retention of national defense information and obstruction of justice as he destroyed his camera and computer after his phone containing the illegal photos was found.

During his trial, Saucier argued that he should receive probation, not prison time, because Hillary Clinton was never indicted for her emails.

Saucier was sentenced in August, 2016, and immediately began lobbying for his pardon. Saucier’s application was denied because, according to the Office of the Pardon Attorney, “the [Justice] Department’s regulations require a petitioner to wait a period of at least five years after conviction or release from confinement (whichever is later)”. His case arose to then candidate Trump’s attention, who reiterated the baseless comparison between Saucier’s wrongdoing and Clinton emails.

On March 4th, 2018, Saucier appeared on Fox & Friends to plead his case for a presidential pardon. President Trump delivered just 6 days later, adding his congratulations on Twitter to Saucier, whom he characterizes as one “who served proudly” despite the treacherous nature of Saucier’s crimes.

Roger Stone

Stone spent decades in politics, as a known “dirty trickster”. Throughout his career, Stone’s M.O. centered on threats, tricks, and vile remarks on his opponents. Media Matters for America keeps watch of his outrageously hateful behavior and speech. Stone is also a close associate of the violent rightwing hate group the Proud Boys. To learn more about Roger Stone, I recommend the Netflix documentary “Get Me Roger Stone.”

Beginning with Stone’s indictment in the Mueller investigation, President Trump vigorously defended his longterm friend, deriding judge, prosecutors, and jurors involved. Ultimately the Justice Department intervened in Stone’s sentencing, and his prosecutors withdrew in protest with one in particular resigning altogether. Subsequently more than 2,500 former DOJ employees backed an open letter asking Attorney General Willam Barr to resign.

Stone was able to delay reporting to federal prison citing concerns over Covid-19, while prisons across the nation have broken out as hot spots due to overcrowding and inadequate PPE. Yet alas President Trump commuted Stone’s sentence in July, 4 days before Stone was due.

So, here we have it! This post was brought to you by… my irrepressible need to look everything up. P.S. if you encounter a paywall for anything linked in this post, simply use a different web browser or Google Chrome’s Incognito mode, happy reading!

Money Diary a la R29 but then I fell into The Time Sludge mid-week

DAY 1 – $0

6:20A My little dog needs to go potty. I take her to the roof deck. It was her sister’s Gotcha Day yesterday and they had cake for dinner… could cake be the culprit for this rude awakening?

6:45A Have a vitamin D gummy (the bottle says take two for 250% of daily needs? I just take one, so I’m basically paying half price!), brush teeth, wash face (water & micellar water), moisturize (with SPF)

7:00A Feed dogs

7:10A Walk dogs

7:30A Check on all my plants

7:45A Cross-stitch. I just learned how to last week.  In the grand family tradition of me working painstakingly to create fugly things to give to my mom, I will mail these to her upon completion.

I’m working on my second bookmark right now.

8:15A Breakfast. I cook noodles with the last of my mustard green and bean curd stir-fry. 

8:50A Cross-stitch. I’m completely winging it. After failing to adhere to the free pattern I got for my first bookmark, which I finished last night, I confidently threw away the instructions. I am now headily on my own.

11:45A Chores. I’m taking a break from cross-stitching to change bed linens. This is loosely on the schedule at 2-week intervals. Friday was two weeks, and finally today I got around to it. My little dog wants to sunbathe on the roof deck. I water my plants and murder some spotted lantern flies. It was harrowing. No one helped me. 

on the bright side I discovered that my brussel sprouts are coming in

12:30P Linens are in the wash, so I hop on the computer. I’m meant to work on my QuickBooks for the household, instead I started drafting this MD.

1:15P Lunch. I’m having leftover sour cabbage fish hot pot.

5:00P Party time. I’m cracking open a beer with my bath. I usually read in the bath. I’m reading The Color of Law right now. I love baths because I can read. After the bath I put on my lash lengthening serum, and jojoba oil that I use as a moisturizer. I’m trying to use up stuff I bought on a trial basis.

6:00P Feed dogs. Followed by cross-stitch. I’m working overtime. I really want my mom to have these dumb bookmarks.

6:45P Dinner. We have a party on the roof deck with our dogs. Dinner is vegan sausage made from scratch with rolls from scratch and a mustard-y sweet sauerkraut sauce, with sauerkraut made from scratch! After dinner we discuss why I’m not a fan of libertarianism.

8:30P Party is over. Cleaning up requires walking all of our plates and trash down to the kitchen, on the first floor, from the roof. What a trek.

8:45P I’m in bed. More cross-stitching ensues. 

In the morning my spouse does the dishes and feeds the cat. 

In the afternoon my spouse meal preps with stuff from our last grocery run.

In the evening my spouse gets items ready for the grill for our “party”, and feeds the cat.

Day 2 – $162.10

6A Wake up. I dreamed my grandpa just died and all my toes were bleeding at the memorial. My spouse is awake a little later. We hang out. Brush teeth, rinse face with water, hydrating serum, change out of bed clothes, SPF moisturizer.

6:50A Walk dogs.

7:15A Feed dogs, cross-stitch.

8:00A Breakfast. Fish stew again. I have two more servings after this meal.

8:20A Cross-stitch.

11:00A I’m hungry again. I make a quesadilla with an egg and the Gotdamn BBQ sauce. Shout out to them. Super yummy.

11:15A Errands. First stop is no-contact dropping off documents. Then post office drop-off. $9.20 Then dry-cleaners. We haven’t needed to dry-clean much so I’ve left this batch at the cleaners for over a month at this point. Bless her. $27.90

12:30P Home. I do some chores.

2:00P Second Lunch. My spouse made shrimp po’boys for us. Shout out to Joe’s Gourmet Fish Fry. Good stuff. More cross-stitching after (second) lunch.

4:00P (Tele-)Therapy. My therapist said she was proud of me. That made me tear up. $125

5:00P Screen time. I got an email from my employee with stuff for me to look over. I’ll get to it tomorrow. I get into a conversation with my partner about why I think I could spend $2,000 in an attempt to rig an online contest and win the grand prize of $5,000. Spoiler alert: it won’t work. I still feel tempted. Damn gambling monkey brain.

8:30P Dinner. We have homemade pizza with vegan pepperoni. We watch Aparna Nancherla’s standup on Netflix. More cross-stitching.

9:45P I’m in bed updating this.

Day 3 – $0

6:30A I’m awake.

6:45A Walk dogs. 

7:10A Feed dogs. Cross-stitch. 

8:10A Breakfast. Still fish stew.

9:15A My best friend called (yay!) 

9:30A Check all my plants. I also pot some yam leaves I’d been rooting in water. 

Today is shower day for my indoor plants (except succulents).

10:20A I fold and put away linens I washed two days ago. It only takes <10 minutes, but I have to put it off for several hours to days.

11:10A Fish stew, because I’m hungry again. I’m all down with this dish. Later today I’ll meal prep some more Chinese food.

11:30A Screen time. I have to respond to our employee from yesterday. The company is in maintenance (hibernation?) mode, and compared to when there was a lot to do, now I never feel like doing what little is required of me. Bad avoidance brain. I’m also catching up on this, and I try to work on budget stuff but the Amex site is still down.

1:00P I doze off for a bit.

2:30P Lunch. It’s shrimp po’boy again. heart-eye emoji.

3:00P I am still on this cross-stitching struggle bus. I’ve gone ahead and made my own design, and I’m having trouble finishing it off in some way that I like. 

The stitches I’m trying are not giving off the texture I thought I’d get.

6:00P It’s time for me to meal prep some Chinese food for the next few days.

7:30P I’ve cut myself, and I feel all of the self-pity.

7:50P with my partner acting as medic and sous chef, dinner is served. I’m proud of myself for making 4 dishes that are all vegan.

9:00P I’m in bed now. Catching up here and looking at r/coronavirus again.

12:30A Finally making myself go to sleep after I fell down a YouTube rabbit hole. I’ve seen Megan Thee Stallion’s Tiny Desk Concert SO many times. I never regret it.

Day 4 – $0

5:57A I’m awake. My bandaid hurts because it’s on too tight. I take the dogs out on the roof deck. No walk today. I feel distressed over shaving off roughly a fifth of my fingernail. I hem and haw over cleaning it with peroxide. My partner does not make fun of me. All done, I feel a little better. We lay in bed talking out different future scenarios. What would it be like if we had $$$, $$, or $. How much longer do we plan to stay in our current home & businesses. Our dogs, ever respectful, are only minimally disruptive for a time. 

7:00A Feed dogs. I broke my embroidery needle last night while on video with my cousin. So I’m just going to read. 

Editor’s Note:This is the day I gave up on a really detailed diary. I’m not surprised I didn’t make it past Day 4. I have a history of giving up on projects that I’m not required to finish. Also I fell in the Pandemic Time Sludge in which I just read, work, nap and putter about with no concept of time.

Day 5 – $0

Big day! I sent these to my parents.

In the morning I video chat with my cousin as she waits for the vet. My dog niece has an upset tummy.

Lunch was roasted garlic pizza. 

I spent the afternoon and evening researching different counties on Wikipedia and Zillow. 

In the afternoon I continuously bother my partner about where we could potentially move, in the future, once the pandemic dust settles. 

Dinner was leftover Chinese food I made.

Day 6 – $101.08

Breakfast is (homemade) kimchi fried rice with leftover rice from Chinese food.

In the morning I have a bath and call with my best friend. When I dressed I had to put on one of the few pairs of shorts that still fit. In the pocket I found my ticket for Dear Evan Hansen from 2018. So that was the last time I was this big. Yikes. After I dress we run errands.

We go to an Asian supermarket. $70.20 

Besides groceries, I also got this.

We also hit up Aldi for American stuff. $30.88

I video chat with Mini! She taught me what “cluttercore” is. It’s similar to my own dream home aesthetic, which is cottagecore but ~witchy~. I wish we lived together because we seem to have tastes that would mesh well.

Dinner was hot pot party! I froze some tofu as soon as we got home from the stores but it still wasn’t all the way frozen by dinner, duly noted. Next time wait one whole day to enjoy proper spongy goodness. 

We watched The Clapper with Ed Helms, Tracy Morgan and Amanda Seyfried. It was meh, would not recommend.

Day 7 – $46.67

For breakfast I had some soup leftover from hot pot. Then I was offered a quesadilla with BBQ sauce, which I piggishly accepted.

In the morning I ordered Mini her birthday present from LTFP Shop on Etsy. I got her two masks and scrunchies sets. $33.71

These are mine I got before
which came with a sweet note from the seller/creator

I found a dreamy linen (from Nisa’s Fabric and Beyond) I really wanted to embroider on, so I had a lil splurge. $12.96

I canceled my Netflix subscription as my partner discovered we have it free with our internet service. I migrate my watch list.

Lunch was homemade pasta in a homemade alfredo sauce.

Today was a (deep) cleaning day. I was offered floors but I erroneously chose surfaces, which included toilets and stove. I only got one load of laundry in during the whole ordeal, so tomorrow will have to be dedicated to laundry.

Dinner was a pan pizza and leftover hot pot. I added the remaining half daikon, some enoki mushrooms and napa cabbage to bulk up the soup. I made a punch with cranberry juice, prosecco (we ain’t on a champagne budget!), sparkling water, and vodka. We watched Gina Yashere’s stand-up on Netflix. 7/10.


Therapy: $125

Groceries: $101.08

Gifts: $33.71

Dry cleaning: $27.90

Arts & Crafts: $12.96

Postage: $9.20 + 2 forever stamps 

Total was $309.85 of which only $235.28 (therapy + groceries + postage) I’d categorize as absolute necessities, but overall this was a pretty typical week. I think I have decent self-restraint. Like my sister Amanda used to say, frugality is a muscle, train it! Onward!

Learning to Read Black-American Writers

I started reading in English in 2002.

from 2002-2013 these are the works of Black-American writers I have read sans others that were borrowed and returned or read and later donated

I studied Puritan Literature in undergrad. I used to wholeheartedly want to write my PhD dissertation on the Civil War poetry of Melville and Whitman; my twin heroes of a time, at the time. Eventually I recognized that white men dominated my reading (read: thinking). So in 2013 I made a conscious effort to diversify. I read mostly women, and when I read men, they were often from other continents.

These are all the Black writers I read and kept from 2013-2019 (Danielle Allen, Danielle Evans and Sapphire are Black-American women. Dinaw Mengestu was born in Ethiopia and later moved to the United States. Ben Okri was born in Nigeria and later moved to England.)

In August 2014, during the first wave of the Ferguson Uprising, I read the news. I thought I knew what I was reading, for all of its history, and all its scope in the present, but I was wrong. Eventually as media coverage went away, and my attention was led with it.

January to April this year, I was deeply anxious about Covid-19 in general and in particular I feared racists singling me or my family out because of our visibly East Asian appearance. One day in March, after our governor temporarily shuttered nonessential businesses, I read news coverage and saw pictures of people standing closely (not physically distancing), in line at a gun store half a mile from my home. That sent me down a spiral of “what is ‘essential business’?”, and, what is the place of guns in a home. I couldn’t imagine harming someone in defense of property. I also thought, what desperation and hurt beyond the hope of material gain could put someone to barge into my home, to threaten my life and risk theirs, for whatever ordinary objects can be found.

In April I read in the news that Black Americans feared wearing cloth face masks would lead to racial profiling. Whereas I avoided medical masks for fear that others will see me as sick with the “China Virus” or a weaselly hoarder of PPE needed by medical personnel. I knew racial profiling disproportionately affected black and brown Americans, but I thought my lived experiences as another non-white minority was more or less similar. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I happened to read Gwendolyn Brooks for the first time.

In May I learned of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. It woke up a mixture of feelings I’d known in passing in my almost 20 years in this country. I realized so regrettably late, due to my privilege, that being black-skinned in America isn’t being my color to some worse degree as I imagined. Gwendolyn Brooks writing about Emmett Till went from an internet search evincing faint sorrow, to shock in my bones hurt, at my first glimpse of how little progress had been made in 65 years. I recognized I had so much to learn.

In May I read these books by Black American writers

Just last year I became an American citizen, and besides voting I hadn’t thought much about what it meant to be American. I see now that I must be pro-Black to be American. I must make sure to celebrate and champion, protect and support the people who truly built up and continue to give so much to the place I’m calling home.

what my to-read list looks like now

This last picture makes up part one of my book haul from Uncle Bobbie’s, a black-owned bookshop in my city. I know my buying from local black-owned businesses, and reading Black-American writers won’t heal my community and the black bodies, minds and souls around me. This is just the first steps I’m taking as a true to my core ally. I will teach myself to show up in more ways.

PS. Thanks to Mini’s initiative, we’ve also gotten to make conversations with my parents on anti-racism. I’ll always be grateful she showed me how to step up and reach for meaningful change.

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