On Reparations, Gentrification, the Role of Police, and Other Intellectual Pursuits

I know all you bookish and clever women have read  quite a bit over the last year. What’s the hardest/best thing you’ve read lately?

The thing that I keep coming back to, over and over again, is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Case For Reparations. It’s shaped my thinking over the last few months incredibly strongly. I’ve been slowly making my way through his intellectual autopsy of the piece, with a focus on Chicago’s unique history of real estate awfulness. I lived on the north side and then the west side — Rogers Park and West Garfield Park— and felt incredibly complicit. It was important for me to know what I was participating in, however unwillingly.

Another twisty issue I’ve been thinking about lately — and I’m sure you have been, too — has been the role of the police in US society, and the future of the institution. I’ve been horrified by the behavior of police unions, as I work for a union and tend to be a little bit idealist about the possibilities of unions. The surreal work stoppage in New York has helped many of us visualize a world without police, thinking I’ve been guided through by @prisonculture above all. I’ve been reading articles like this one about the birth of the modern police force.

I’ve also been thinking about gentrification, and how cold my blasted toes are (now I live in Minnesota, where they only cancel school when the wind chill gets down to -40F. They almost canceled today, and they did cancel earlier this week, much to my substitute teacher partner’s delight) — that is to say, climate change. I started a new, much busier job in October, so my thoughts are even more tangled than usual since I have so little time to iron them out. I think about unions, and the future of higher education, and disordered eating, and seasonal affective disorder, and my poor posture. I think about laundry and effective, affectionate cohabitation. I think about extremism and free speech and bigotry and the role of satire and privilege, always privilege. My brain is very full. I’m thinking about queer yoga tonight.

I know I’m not the only one grappling with big ideas. What have you all been thinking about lately?

4 thoughts on “On Reparations, Gentrification, the Role of Police, and Other Intellectual Pursuits”

  1. I’ve been grappling with how to explain to my husband that cultural appropriation is a thing, that systemic racism is a thing, and that white male privilege is a thing, and that he should care VERY MUCH about these things, because they do impact him directly. Progress is slow, but I have hope.

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