Tag: Summer

Extra! Extra!: Making Sense of a Summer Shaped by Violence

Extra! Extra!: Making Sense of a Summer Shaped by Violence

This week’s Extra! Extra! brings news from yet another grim week of police brutality in America. The state-sanctioned violence continues, people protest peacefully and are attacked and even killed by law enforcement and vigilantes (who are also, more or less, supported by law enforcement). We also bring a brief update on the state of the US election after both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions wrapped up, an update on some of the situations we’ve been following in Lebanon and Russia and, finally, on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another Day In America, Another Story of Police Brutality

Fatal Police Shooting Of Black Man In Louisiana Sparks Outrage And Protest

Natalie: Today, you will be reminded that it is the 12th anniversary of Barack Obama accepting the Democratic nomination for President. Today, you will also be reminded that it is the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Activists from across the globe are converging on Washington, DC — both physically and virtually — to echo King’s clarion call for civil and economic justice.

But what you might not hear about is that today is also the 65th anniversary of the murder of Emmett Till. For the sin of saying “bye baby” after purchasing bubble gum, the teenager was dragged “from his bed, beat…to the point of disfigurement, and shot…before [his body was tossed] into the Tallahatchie River with a cotton-gin fan attached with barbed wire laced to his neck to weigh him down.” Till’s mama, famously, left his casket open on the day of his funeral so America could see what it had wrought. It happened 65 years ago…we’ve never been so far from Till’s death and yet the environment that provoked it feels as alive today as it ever has during my lifetime.

After video shows Wisconsin police shooting a Black man multiple times, National Guard is called to Kenosha

Natalie: Last week, in this very space, I urged folks to do more to protect black and brown trans women. I castigated those who stood by and did nothing while three trans women were getting beaten. Then, because irony is so especially cruel, the police in Kenosha, Wisconsin kill Jacob Blake for doing something… he is paralyzed from the waist down and (!!) handcuffed in a hospital bed for breaking up a fight.

I don’t know what to do or say except that I’m tired. I’m heartbroken and I’m so, so tired.

Rachel: The unspeakably violent and brutal attempted murder of Jacob Blake absolutely knocked the wind out of me; after a summer of such intense and inspiring organizing, it felt unbearable to know that even with a once-in-a-generation moment of unity and outrage, police still felt comfortable doing this. I’m also so, so glad that Blake has survived, and am infuriated that he remains under arrest (for what???) and hope he can be reunited with his family soon. I also want to note that after his injuries, Blake joins a multiply marginalized group as a Black disabled man, and it’s all our duty to support him and other Black disabled people in the specificity of what they experience; we can’t forget about Blake as a person either because he survived the attempt at murdering him or because we think of him as somehow no longer a participant in our world because he’s disabled. Standing against the police violence enacted on Blake means continuing to support his needs as a disabled person in the long-term, especially knowing that we live in a state that won’t. Blake and other disabled folks are actually at greater risk of police violence now; disabled people experience extremely disproportionate rates of police violence, and Black disabled folks are at high particular risk. The pandemic we’re living through will also leave generations of people disabled in ways that they weren’t prior to COVID, and it’s a pandemic that’s disproportionately impacting Black folks in the US — it’s an extremely important time for able-bodied and non-Black people to really prioritize how to materially support and act in solidarity with Black disabled people.

FBI: Police fatally shoot man on North Dakota reservation

Natalie: Unbeknownst to most, the group with the highest rate of deaths from police brutality aren’t Black or Latinx; they’re Native Americans. Their communities are, historically, overpoliced and, far too often, the consequences are deadly. Native lives matter…and we should say their name too: Brandon Laducer.

Phoenix police held man on hot asphalt for nearly 6 minutes before he died, video shows

Natalie: DEFUND. THE. POLICE.

Himani: Every time I read a headline about another person (almost always Black or Native American) shot by the police (or someone who thinks they are the police, because really it doesn’t matter either way), I think to myself, “And how many more people are there who were shot by the police that I don’t even know about?”

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say, and this violence doesn’t shape my life the way that it does for Black and Indigenous people. I want to try to be hopeful that change is on the horizon — somewhere — because, as a friend so powerfully pointed out to me recently, it’s not my place to be hopeless when my life isn’t the one that’s on the line. But really, truly, what will it take to change this? I can’t understand how anyone supports law enforcement or those who think they’re acting in the spirit of law enforcement after all of this. And yet somehow, I’m still walking by houses and businesses with the police flag hanging outside. How can a person be so cavalier?

The people who commit these acts of brutality truly lack humanity. And the people who abet them also clearly do, as well.

There Is No Debate To Be Had: Police Reform Does Not Work

When “Police Reform” Came to Kenosha, Wisconsin

“Most Cops Are Good”

Himani: How many times have we heard this story? A city invested in police reform and the police violence continued. But as Natalie discusses in greater detail below, law enforcement has a white supremacy problem. How can you give so much power to people who are so clearly adherents of violent extremism and then think a couple of aluminum guardrails are going to keep them in check? The real question is why anyone has that much power in the first place.

White supremacists and militias have infiltrated police across US, report says

Natalie: Remember in 2009 when the Obama administration released a report called, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” and Republicans proceeded to lose their shit? The administration stuck it quietly back on the shelf to quell the backlash. In the decade since, the tide of violence it portended has come to pass.

The Brennan Center’s report, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Racism, White Supremacy, and Far-Right Militancy in Law Enforcement,” echoes a lot of that 2009 DHS report…only with a greater focus on law enforcement. We’d be fools not to listen this time.

Police Brutality Is Horrific. And It’s Just One Part of the Problem.

Black Homeowners Face Discrimination in Appraisals

Natalie: This is egregious and offensive — it’s stunning how blatant this is — but, as someone who grew up in a multi-racial home, it completely tracks with my experience. Even today, I’m nervous about accompanying my white mother into certain spaces where my black skin might prove disadvantageous to her.

Black Workers Are More Likely to Be Unemployed but Less Likely to Get Unemployment Benefits

Himani: I’m not really sure this comes as news to anyone. But somehow, amazingly, stereotypes about who “exploits” social services abound.

To Reappropriate Orwell: “All Protests Are Equal, But Some Protests Are More Equal.”

Unmasked Protesters Push Past Police Into Idaho Lawmakers’ Session

Natalie: A few weeks ago in Tennessee, the state legislature passed a law cracking down on protesters. Under the new law, if Tennessee protesters illegally camp on state property, they face a Class E felony, punishable by six years and prison and the loss of the right to vote. Before the bills passage, State Rep. Jason Hodges spoke the quiet part aloud, “We seem to not worry about protesting when we as white people show up to our capitols with AR-15s, but when black people show up with signs, it just seems like all of a sudden we want to pass legislation.”

It is impossible to see these scenes out of Idaho and not think about that…about who the state allows to protest and whose voices are welcome on the public square and whose are not. This report from NPR notes that six years ago, activists advocating for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to be added to the state’s Human Rights Act were arrested, despite being relatively silent. But these people, who carry weapons to intimidate the people around them and who vandalize state property, are just allowed to do so…without any repercussions.

Rachel: I’m reminded of the history of American gun control (“gun control,” such as it is) here — to the extent that we have laws regulating what kind of firearms one can own and who can own them, much of that is due to the Black Panthers’ (legal) open carrying of firearms for their self-defense and defense of their communities in the 1960s. This Buzzfeed piece goes into much more detail (very worth reading!) but as the head summarizes: “when Black people carried guns, conservatives supported gun control.” A bill aimed at restricting the open carry of loaded firearms was actually introduced by “a conservative Republican in the California legislature named Don Mulford, who sought to prohibit the public carrying of loaded firearms in the state — a move clearly targeted to disband or weaken the Black Panthers by criminalizing their signature tactic. The NRA supported Mulford’s bill, which was consistent with the moderate stance the organization had taken on gun control legislation throughout most of its history up to that point.” Since then, (limited) gun control measures have passed into law in the US; however, we can see from the unspeakable violence Kyle Rittenhouse was easily able to unleash that they’re enforced in a racially disparate way (Rittenhouse’s open carrying of firearms was no problem, but we’re supposed to agree that Blake’s allegedly inside his car somehow was?). Much like legally mandated COVID precautions, much like laws aimed at protesters, drug offenses, sexual assault offenses; much like everything. It’s a sobering reminder both of how entrenched anti-Black racism is in our infrastructures as well as the limits of trying to legislate our values if we don’t change our culture.

17-year-old charged with murder in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shootings

Natalie: There’s a continuum of how we allow whiteness and white supremacy in this country…which begins with insolent rage and allowing whiteness to assert its ownership over space that doesn’t belong to them, as in Idaho…and this feels like how it ends, with two dead at the hands of a whiteness that could not, would not, be contained.

The police welcomed Kyle Rittenhouse and his weapon of war to Kenosha. They gave him water and made him feel like one of them…the very thing he’d always wanted. Then he kills two people: the first because of a plastic bag apparently, the second because someone dared try to hold him accountable. That’s how fuckin’ fragile whiteness is: it can be sent into a murderous rage by a fuckin’ plastic bag.

Rachel: It’s truly impossible at this point to even pretend not to be aware of the obvious epidemic of radicalized, murderous young white men. The pattern is literally always the same: indoctrinated in extremist, violent communities on the internet linked to white supremacist, conspiracy theory and/or incel movements (the overlap between which is not coincidental!); usually early signs of intimate violence enacted against women in their personal lives, and culminating in a violent public outburst with a high-powered weapon, generally including a callout or public claiming of their extremist online communities, which then galvanizes those communities all over again, heightening and perpetuating the cycle. This is undeniable; it has happened constantly for… decades? now, from the École Polytechnique massacre to Elliot Rodger to the recent shootings in Hanau to Kyle Rittenhouse. The list goes on.

It’s not mysterious or even difficult to figure out how to address; police recently identified a protester through a blurry photograph of a t-shirt that they tracked the Etsy purchase of. Simply put, if they wanted to identify and monitor the people who are causing this, they absolutely could; they have chosen not to. These shootings keep continuing because their victims are women (often sex workers), Black people, and immigrants: people whose lives the state doesn’t care enough to try to protect, in the most generous reading. Before he started shooting, police in Kenosha welcomed the militia Rittenhouse was a part of, offering him a bottle of water; he was arrested in his home state of Illinois, after returning home freely, not at the scene where he murdered two people. Do we think it’s somehow just an unfortunate accident these attacks keep happening?

Himani: I agree with everything Rachel has said above. I also want to add this angle: America is so utterly hypocritical in how it thinks about “terrorism.” Message boards with white supremacists explicitly talking about harming civilians and elected officials? No problem, the FBI doesn’t care. Brown person taking a picture of a bridge? Quite possibly a terrorist, law enforcement better go check that out. (This did actually happen to someone I know in the wake of 9/11.) It’s just… I honestly don’t have words. Every time someone tries to make an argument that none of these things are about race, I really don’t have the patience any more. Everything. Every damned single thing in this country is about race and proximity to whiteness. That’s all it comes down to.

And what’s also disheartening is in the same breath we talk about how the future lies in the hands of Gen Z, we have indoctrinated young white supremacists of the Millennial and Gen Z age. We saw this in Charleston, and we saw this in Charlottesville, and we see this again now in Kenosha. So, what exactly is the future we have to hope for?

Facebook chose not to act on militia complaints before Kenosha shooting

Natalie: Facebook has already shown itself to be a threat to democracy and now it has blood on its hands.

Himani: Isn’t it amazing how Facebook just blocked Thai protest groups under pressure from the monarchy, and yet somehow white supremacists inciting violence in America fly under its radar — even after being tagged as violating Facebook policies?

US Election 2020 Update

We Now Know How Much Trump’s Postmaster General Slowed Down the Mail

Two women say they didn’t know their naturalization ceremony would be used at GOP convention

Natalie: Of course they didn’t ask…of course they didn’t.

Himani: The really fucked up thing about this is that even if they had asked, what could any of these people have said? Who is going to pass up a naturalization ceremony when greencards and visas have been basically ground to a halt.

And speaking of the RNC:

Natalie: It is amazing the sheer number of lies one man can fit into an hour-long speech. Both Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and Daniel Dale on CNN exhausted themselves addressing just a small portion of them.

Earlier this week, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, suggested that Joe Biden not debate the pathological president ahead of November’s election. She said, “I do not think that the president of the United States has comported himself in a way that anybody has any association with truth, evidence, data and facts.”

After Trump’s display last night, it’s hard to argue that she’s not right.

Voting Is Broken. It’s the Only Way Out.

Why We’re Voting

Himani: With so much broken in the world, with so much broken in America specifically, with a primary election that was so disappointing to so many people, it is so easy to feel hopeless. I understand that, really I do. These five LGBTQ+ activists have no illusions about the choices before us: the man currently in office who openly supports white supremacists and the man who is stuck on the idea that “there are a few bad apples.” But they also have no illusions about which of these two men can actually be held accountable and which of these two administrations is more dangerous.

There’s so much that can be said and that will be said about this election. But this roundtable is definitely a powerful read.

And Other Things That Are Not Looking So Hot

Mexico’s Government Can’t Find 70,000 Missing People

Tortures and Enforced Disappearances: The Bloody History of Bangladesh’s Elite Paramilitary Force

Beirut’s devastating blast has not shaken the ruling class’s grip on Lebanon

Himani: It’s so disheartening to watch these moments unfold, where it seems like in the face of great tragedy, much needed change may finally be coming and then… the powerful and wealthy continue to grasp onto their power and their wealth.

It may seem Putin controls the Russian state personally. The reality is more dangerous

Himani: Sometimes it’s easier to believe that there’s one strong man, and if he (almost always he) were just removed from power the world would be a better place. But this grim article is a reminder that reality is much more complicated, cruel and difficult to unseat.

USCIS makes it official. They will ignore SCOTUS ruling and, “will reject all initial DACA requests.”

Himani: In another bit of news that did not really make headlines: back in July, USCIS indicated they would ignore the SCOTUS ruling. Now they have made that a matter of official policy.

Hurricane Laura was already a deadly storm before it reached the US

The US is in a water crisis far worse than most people imagine

Himani: I’ve been thinking about water a lot the past few years. It’s becoming a scarcer and scarcer resource. And while that is abundantly clear when you read about places like India it’s also true in the West and so-called “Global North.”

COVID-19 Update

CDC was pressured ‘from the top down’ to change coronavirus testing guidance, official says

Emails show businesses held sway over state reopening plans

I work as a medic in Syria, where an unreported Covid-19 crisis is unfolding

Xinjiang residents handcuffed to their homes in Covid lockdown

COVID Has Caused Extra Harm for Guatemala’s Victims of Gendered Violence

How Young Women Journalists Helped to Fight COVID-19 in Rwanda

The Dyke Kitchen: A Summer Simmer With Short Ribs And Plums

The Dyke Kitchen: A Summer Simmer With Short Ribs And

The Dyke Kitchen written over a drippy yellow shape that has checkerboard at the ends

The Dyke Kitchen is a bi-weekly series about how queerness, identity, culture and love are expressed through food and cooking.


Now, as I’m sitting in my living room sweating on my couch, it seems unimaginable that earlier this week, there was a crisp breeze whispering through my windows, begging me to braise. I understand that it’s summer and not traditional braising season, but I was feeling prematurely into the way the August light has subtly shifted and felt a shade of autumn in my heart. Some of that has to do with the long evenings I’ve been spending outdoors in order to be with the people I love, and in the parts of California where you can find me, that means nights with flannel, wool socks, beanies and a fire, even at the height of summer.

Anyway, I had a wide open evening and a bunch of plums and pluots on my counter that I had been eating over the sink. I decided I probably should DO something with them. I don’t know what exactly clicked, maybe it’s that I’ve been eating a lot of fruit in a savory context, but I decided to do beef short ribs braised with broccolini and plums in a soy sauce-based liquid. And then, I thought it would be nice to eat that with ricotta gnocchi with preserved lemon in them.

So that is what this meal turned into: a warm, hearty dish that’s simple, but has some fruity flavors mixed into the richness. This is not a light, summery meal, but you know, I’m still enjoying it after the sun goes down and there is something about it that feels excessive and satisfying.

An overhead shot of a bowl of a very brown and soft-looking braised beef and broccolini, with a side of preserved lemon gnocchi getting spooned up by a hungry hand.

How To Make A Stove-Top Braise

If you don’t eat meat, you can still braise with plums like this, just use a vegetable that’s a little more hearty. I’ve added wedges of acorn squash, whole turnips, celery root, and other sorts of structured, harder vegetables to this kind of braising liquid with great results. I cannot tell you what is happening with the broccolini, but it really adds something to the broth, and there is a beautiful way that onions and plums melt together in a sauce that I have endless affection for.

Ingredients

4 bone-in beef short ribs
2 bundles of broccolini
1 sweet white onion
5 plums

For the braising liquid
1/2 cup of low sodium (this is what they had at the store!) soy sauce. I will say that I like things salty and if you wanted to be more conscientious, you could do 1/4 cup soy sauce and add more as you go
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
A spoonful of honey or maple syrup
2 cups of chicken broth (mine was made with some celery so that was a component of this too)
I ended up adding in probably another ½ cup of water to the pot

Directions

Get out a dutch oven, put it on the stove over medium-high heat and brown your short ribs. Tbh, I only do this because everyone says this is what you do, I can’t say that I experience the browning in some spectacular way.

After that, take them out and take the pot off of the heat.

Cut your plums into quarters (remove the pits), cut the onion in quarters, and trim any dried ends off of your broccolini.

On a red cutting board, a white onion is quartered and two bunches of broccolini with their edges trimmed, are lying next to a knife

Then I put the ribs back in first, stuff the onion and plums around them and arrange the broccolini on top like a wreath. I don’t mind if my vegetables get super cooked down, but if you like to keep some bite, you can also do the option of waiting until the meat is basically done and then adding them in OR you can do one bunch the whole way and one bunch in at the tail end. Like I said, the broccolini does do something nice to the flavor. If you’re 100% veg, put them all in together, it’ll be fun!

In a dutch oven on top of the stove, beef short ribs are nestled together with plum edges, onion wedges and covered in a wreath of broccolini

Now mix up the braising liquid, and pour it into the dutch oven. I added chicken broth after I did the soy sauce mix, and then added a little bit of water to make sure the meat was fully submerged.

On the counter sits a pint of cloudy homemade chicken broth and a Pyrex measuring glass with has half a cup of brown soy sauce braising liquid in it

I put the dutch oven back on to the burner, put the lid on and brought everything up to a boil. Then I put it on the back burner to simmer at a very low setting, and cracked the lid so steam could escape.

I left it like this for 3 hours, checking now and then to make sure the meat was still submerged in a liquid and adding water when it seemed like it needed more.

When the ribs had fallen off the bone and were tender in my chopsticks, I considered it done and was happy with the results. At that point, I like to remove the bones and slice the short ribs into pieces so they’re easy to eat over rice, with gnocchi, with noodles, however you like.

I’m here to note, that you can also braise in the oven, and I’ve done a very similar recipe where you put the dutch oven in the oven at 325 degrees F with the lid on, and you can get a similar delicious and really tender meat or veggie in around the same time frame.

How To Make The Ricotta Gnocchi With Preserved Lemon

I like these little dumplings because they’re so cute, have a chew that I like, and also they taste like CHEESE, which is one of my all-time favorite things. They’re also quicker than their potato cousins, though I will admit, as a gnocchi fan, they’re not really the same. But I don’t really love spending time cooking and then ricing potatoes either.

I thought preserved lemons would bring in a bright and also bitter flavor that would cut some of the pure beef fat that was going to be prominent in the short ribs. I also like the way lemon and ricotta taste together, that seemed natural. I made these while the beef simmered!

I’ve been using this Serious Eats recipe for years, and the main difference between mine and theirs is that I’m not nearly as meticulous, and while they don’t turn out as pretty as theirs, they still taste good.

Ingredients

8 oz of high-quality ricotta. I use the basket of Bellwether Farms. Truly, you can still use a more processed, stabilized ricotta and you will certainly live to tell the tale, it just might have a different texture and flavor.

1 cup of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the board

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

1 egg and 1 more egg yolk

¼ wedge of preserved lemon, minced or food processed

1 teaspoon of salt

Directions

I begin by heavily salting a big pot of water and putting it on the stove to boil.

Drain your ricotta by spreading it out on a paper towel with a spatula. Does this feel strange to do? Yes. Does it work? As long as you have sturdy paper towels, that won’t disintegrate into the cheese. You can also pat it down and press it with a clean dish towel.

Scrape your drained ricotta into a large bowl and mix in your parmesan (mine was obviously microplaned, and so I put in more than ½ a cup, but I work in estimates!), flour, and eggs.

A silver bowl with a messy shaggy mix of flour, eggs, ricotta cheese, and salt just starting to get stirred up with a green silicon spatula

Mix it up with a spatula so it starts to come together into a dough. Before it’s fully integrated, but coming together, add your preserved lemon and salt. Then keep mixing so it forms a dough, a wet, sticky dough, but a dough.

I then flour a board, and get out a baking sheet and cover it with parchment paper.

Then I grab what seems like a quarter of the dough, work it into a ball and roll it out into a long snake that is about the width of my index finger. My experience of these gnocchi is that they get super puffy in the water — they can get tough if you cook them too long and they’re just kinda flat and slimy if you don’t cook them enough. So to try to make things easy for myself, I cut them pretty small, like no bigger than the first section of your fingertip.

On a flour board, a brown hand pinches at the long arced snake of gnocchi dough that has just been rolled out

I put the cut pieces of gnocchi dough on the parchment covered baking sheet where they go to await their boil.

Repeat the snake rolling and chopping activity three more times and you should have a baking sheet of cute little pillows. Mine often get pinched or look weird and wrinkly, and I do not care.

A shot of a half baking sheet, where recently cut piece of gnocchi are scattered, like little mishhapen pillows, and awaiting their boil

When the water is boiling, I take about ten to twelve gnocchi pieces and fling them into the boiling water. I have no tips for making this elegant, though I’m sure someone else does. They only need a few minutes to puff up and float to the surface (sometimes they need a nudge off the bottom of the pot) and that’s how you know they’re done.

An overhead shot of the stove top. On the top left is a blue Le Creuset, where the short ribs are simmering. On the burner in front of that is a light blue plate where cooked gnocchi are piled high. And to the right of the plate is where a boiling pot of water is cooking raw a few pieces of gnocchi. You can see them started to emerge from the cloudy water.

I lift them out with a strainer, and then put the lid of the pot on to bring it back to a boil. Then repeat the process until all of them are cooked.

I think over time you can figure out the exact texture that you like best: mine is just-cooked-through, and still pretty tender.

These are also great with a tomato sauce, a pesto, in browned butter, and all the ways you might want to eat cheese ravioli — they’re sort of like the filling and ravioli outside in one.

Anyway, this was a sort of off-the-cuff meal, but it’s bringing me joy throughout the week.


Shoes for Summer : butchlesbians

Shoes for Summer : butchlesbians

Hey guys! I know some of us have no idea what shoes work well in the summer. I wrote a new post on my butch focused blog on 9 different styles of shoes – everything from sandals to dress shoes – that work particularly well in the summer. The post has over 40 different picks for great summer options. I hope this will help out any of you who are hoping to look dapper all summer long.

https://butc-h-er.com/2020/08/08/best-shoe-styles-for-summer-with-over-40-picks/

Summer Slowdown 2020 – Mombian

Summer Slowdown 2020 - Mombian

Summer is upon us. I’m going to scale back posting frequency a bit (but not entirely!) through August in order to spend more time with my family and work on a few behind-the-scenes projects. I’ll still post a couple of times a week and be on social media, so I won’t disappear completely. I hope you and your families are able to enjoy something of the summer, too, even in these trying times.

Tiger Lilies

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