UPDATE, 18 September, 2020: Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died. It is exceptionally painful that she did so on Erev Rosh Hashanah, a time that is supposed to be focused on renewal. At the moment, I feel as if my hope has vanished. The federal judiciary is already stuffed with TWO HUNDRED white, male, ultra-conservative judges who are lifetime appointees — ten of whom are considered unqualified by the ABA¹ — and who will inexorably make their way up the ranks, gaining more and more power as they go. We don’t feel it much now because the current judges in the upper echelons are more centrist or liberal than the ones snapping at their heels. The damage will affect generations to come — if our country, our species even lasts that long. Justice Ginsburg made it known. that
“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg told her granddaughter just days before her death, according to NPR.²
Despite this last wish of a revered, iconic hero, despite McConnell’s conveniently forgotten assertion that justices should not be confirmed in an election year,³ McConnell and Trump have already declared that they WILL shove another judge onto the bench.
I am terrified. I see the erosion and eradication of reproductive rights, women’s rights, and voting rights, the suppression of social justice for Black/BIPOC Americans, for the LGBTQ+ community, for those of us who adhere to minority religions or no religion at all. I see support for corrupt politics that are driven by wealth, the continued degradation of the environment in get name of “the economy,” as if we can have an economy if we can’t live on the planet.
Call your senators. E-mail your senators. Write. your senators. Drop in on your senators. And VOTE.
We shouldn’t have to say it any longer, but we do. Black Lives Matter. And today the news has given us a new name to say:
Mr. Prude was killed back in March, but the circumstances of his death while wearing a spit hood the police put on him only recently came to light. I’ll let you read the details in the accounts below.
There are other groups whose lives we similarly devalue. Some are subsets of the Black community (Black trans folk, Black women) and some are not (BIPOC groups) or may not be (Jews, Muslims, other minority religions). I’m not sure how to talk about these groups without seeming to diminish the BLM discussion,* but for the moment, perhaps the ink offers an analogy. The ink looks black when left alone, but a little water shows it comprises other colors and shades. I will continue to find a more elegant and effective means to discuss the broad swathe of people whose rights we need to affirm and whose wrongs — the ones done to them in the past and the ones we continue to tolerate, propagate, and commit — we must work to assuage.
* 4 September, 2020: I just read in the New York Times this excellent distinction made by Daria Allen, a sixteen-year-old who has been protesting in Portland, Oregon:
One of the few chants she consistently recites is “Black lives matter.” It annoys her that the phrase has become a subject of controversy, often met with the diminishing response “All lives matter.”
“When they have the breast cancer runs, you don’t see people out there yelling, ‘What about lung cancer?’” she said. “Just because I’m talking about what’s happening to me doesn’t mean I don’t care about what’s happening with you. Why do I have to constantly remind these people that I matter?”
When Ms. Allen
posted a link to the fund-raiser in a neighborhood Facebook group, a woman confronted her. Ms. Allen was destroying the city, she said. Ms. Allen fired back, arguing that the police were polluting the city with tear gas. The argument ended with the woman sending her a direct message, which Ms. Allen has saved in her inbox, just to remind herself of the mentality she is fighting against.
“If I see you on the street, you will be the next Black person hanging from a tree,” the woman wrote.
It makes me ill that anyone would throw the hateful and horrifying spectre of lynching at a Black teenager, one who is raising her voice and risking her health and life to call for justice and equality. Vote for Daria Allen because Daria Allen isn’t yet old enough to vote for herself.
Ink: Taccia Sharaku Kurocha