Dred Scott v. Sandford

I had no idea. No idea how much being born white in this country really meant. Maybe it’s because I grew up in one of the whitest states in the nation. I was always ensconced in this world where no one was different than I was. I was concerned with my own little world; if I would ever get a boyfriend, would my field hockey team win the state finals, would I get into the college of my choice. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I started to realize that the world was not all honky dory. It was that year that I found what I loved to study: environmental science. In this course, we brushed on environmental justice (which, surprisingly, the EPA still has a web page on).

It was just the beginning of my slow realization of all that people of color throughout the country have been facing for generations. Because white people are awful. We came to this country, took and conquered where we saw fit, without any regard for native peoples or the black people we brought here to enslave. It makes me sick to my stomach to think that my ancestors may have thought it perfectly acceptable to buy and own and sell other human beings.

So I’m on a path of learning. Learning how privileged being white actually is. Learning how systemic racism is part of each and every facet of our society.  I am learning from the Black Lives Matter movement. I am learning from leaders such as Shaun King and DeRay McKesson. And I realize that I have a long way to go but I’m trying to be more like Greg Popovich.

The podcast that inspired this post is from a couple of weeks ago. It’s from WNYC Studios More Perfect. This episode specifically deals with the Dred Scott case. Many people you ask may know the name Dred Scott but have no idea what the supreme court ended up ruling. But the realities of the Chief Justice Robert Brooke Taney ruling that black men “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect” still seep into every corner of our society today. And we need to work to fix that.

Listen to the full episode here.

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I wonder…

‘I wonder what the first person who saw a narwhal was thinking?’ ‘How did Tim Riggins, a sophomore, become such close friends with Jason Street, a senior, in Friday Night Lights?’  ‘What would some famous person think if they lived my boring, ordinary life?’ ‘I wonder if Stephen King was ever afraid that he would run out of story ideas?’ These are just some of the random thoughts that have popped into my head over the last week.

I spent a LOT of time on long car rides as a kid and I had a lot of time to think. So that’s what I did. Sitting in the middle seat of my mom’s purple Plymouth Voyager van heading from Maine to Florida I pondered the facts and figures of life. Seven year old Jaime wondered why some states required front license plates while others didn’t. Twelve year old Jaime wondered if dogs and cats could communicate with each other in a secret language. These long car rides spent entertaining myself spawned a life filled with random questions, most of which I would never actually ask anyone.

So when Gimlet Media came out with Every Little Thing I was thrilled. A deep dive into individual topics revealing something amazing about a topic that is seemingly ordinary is what I jumped on it. That’s my jam. But I’ll be honest. I am afraid of birds. I am aware of where they are when I’m outside and I inch away from them. The thought of going into a chicken coop to feed chickens makes me want to vomit a little bit. But when Flora Lichtman talked about the amazingness of flamingos I couldn’t help but be fascinated. So I hope you’ll enjoy it too. Take a listen to this episode of Every Little Thing and learn more about these weird birds and why Flora thinks that there should be a flamingo mascot.

Wait, what are we celebrating?

Happy Labor Day to the United States! Most people will celebrate this federal holiday as a long weekend that marks the unofficial end of the summer, a time to get together with friends and family before kids go back to school. My family, we used to go camping every Labor Day weekend at a beautiful lake. I even got my own tent. It was a one person, a green triangular thing that was abandoned (i.e. placed by the dumpster for disposal) in the state park I grew up in. The only thing wrong with it was a broken pole, which meant that I only had to be extra careful when it rained that nothing was touching the side of the tent so that I wouldn’t get all of my things wet.

To be honest, I never thought about the reason that we had the day off from school. I just accepted it and went camping with my family. It didn’t occur to me that Labor Day was there to celebrate the strides the labor movement achieved when working for worker’s rights in America. History likes to play up men’s role in the labor movement, often because men were the ones working outside of the home as breadwinners of the family. The ladies of the Stuff Mom Never Told You (SMNTY) podcast highlight some of the most badass women of the labor movement. This is a great podcast for when you’re stuck in traffic on your way home from the beach, on a hike through the woods drinking in the last of the summer air, or if you’re just at home, getting some cleaning done after your Labor Day guests leave.

Thank you to Emilie and Bridget for this wonderful episode!

Listen here.

Ain’t nobody got time for bra problems.

As a girl growing up in the 21st century United States, I always expected to wear a bra as a grown woman. As a pre-teen, I was counting down the days until I could wear a bra. I thought that I would finally be a grown up when that happened. Driving, dating boys, starting to work, all of these things were wrapped up together. Not gonna lie, it was a big deal when I got my first training bra. I definitely did not need it, but I was psyched. It was baby blue, stretchy, and there was nothing to it. It was essentially just extra fabric. God bless my mom for humoring me.

Now, my thoughts towards bras have drastically changed since then. After years of wearing them I’ve come to realize that bras are a largely pointless article of clothing that I’m expected to wear simply because I identify as female. A lot of the time bras are uncomfortable, cause unfortunate indentation lines, and are the first thing I take off when I get home from work. Ugh sorry. Bra rant over.

As much as I have problems with this particular article of clothing, I had no idea how far back women were actually wearing bras. On this episode of the Braless podcast, host Erin Whitehead and Tawny Platis, host of the Dirty Bits podcast, dive into the Compressive History of the Bra. Take a listen and learn more than you’ve ever known about that little piece of clothing some of us wear nearly every day. Listen here.

The elephant in the classroom.

Student loan debt. It’s awkward to talk about. Personally I do have student loan debt. It’s something I try not to think about too much in my daily life. I know it would bury my spirit if I thought about it all the time. I want to go back and smack my 18 year old self for choosing a private college rather than a public university or state school. It’s one of the greatest regrets I have in my life so far. But I’m lucky, my parents and scholarships contributed to college, so I was able to graduate with significantly less debt than I would have. But it’s still something looming over my head as I try to make decisions about my life.

But I’m not alone. 44.2 million people in the United States have student loan debt. Death, Sex, and Money’s  Anna Sale talks to some of those that have student loan debt and how it  is influencing life choices. Having $20,000, $50,000, $100,000 in student loan debt can impact how you choose to live your life. When and if you have children, buy a house, even what job you hold are just some of the things that can be changed by the amount of debt you have.

Thank you to Anna and the rest of the Death, Sex, Money team for reminding us all that we’re not alone in the struggle with student loan debt. They even created a tool that allows you to find out where you fit in the student debt landscape.

Listen to both part 1 and 2 here.

Row, row, row your boat.

Although most podcasts I listen to are in an attempt to learn something new – history, politics, obscure internet knowledge – occasionally I listen to something just for the story. A story from a regular person, telling something true from their real life. These podcasts allow me to listen and not have to think critically and absorb all information. I’m allowed to just get caught up in the story.

Tim FitzHigham’s story about crossing the English Channel in a bathtub is easily one of my favorite stories. His storytelling is compelling; it snatches your attention and brings you into the bathtub with him, rowing relentlessly across those 19 nautical miles towards France. I revisit this story any time I need a good laugh, so I’d like to share it here, in the hope that it will bring you some joy today.

Audio here – https://themoth.org/stories/all-at-sea 

The city of Philadelphia did what?

Imagine this: a cop knocks on the door of your row home in West Philadelphia and tells you to evacuate the area. It’s May of 1985 and you have been dealing with a nuisance in the area. A house that constantly blares loud political messages. There is a significant bunker on the roof. The occupants have boarded up many of the windows and doors and are generally stand-offish towards outsiders.

MOVE is an organization formed by John Africa formed in 1972 in Philadelphia. Members of MOVE were engaged in public demonstrations against racism and police brutality among other things. In 1978, six years before the infamous confrontation, there was another run in with police at their previous house. This confrontation resulted in the death of a police officer and the imprisonment of nine MOVE members.

After continued attempts to reason with the members of MOVE and essentially make them better neighbors, the Philadelphia police department and the Mayor of Philadelphia decided enough was enough. In May of 1985, they set out on a plan of action. The MOVE members had barricaded the windows and doors of 6221 Osage Avenue and the police believed that they had several guns on the premises. After hours of confrontation, the house was bombed. The fire killed six adults and five children, and displaced an entire neighborhood of mostly black families who lost their houses in the aftermath of this bombing and subsequent fire. Sixty one homes surrounding the MOVE house were completely destroyed.

Check out Tracy and Holly’s episode on this event here

move-bombing-p-orig
The aftermath of the MOVE bombing and the ensuing fire

Feature photo from here , photo in post from Stuff you Missed in History Class Podcast page

The world inside a cult.

What is it like to live in a cult? Just a brief google search brings up lists of the creepiest, weirdest cults known to history. Many of them start as religious organizations, stretching and morphing people’s beliefs to those of the leader. It is reported that people become delusional and are fully entrenched in their view of the world. Some of the most famous cults in recent history are those involving human sacrifice – including suicide of its members. In the United States in 1997, 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult were found dead in California. (Creepy fact – you can still visit their website). 900 members of the People’s Temple were found dead in a jungle in Guayana in 1978.

But cults don’t go from zero to suicide pact instantly. There is a build up of trust between followers and leaders that needs to happen. Those followers might not even know that they are involved in a cult until they are so far in that their entire world is intertwined with it. Elizabeth, a cult survivor, tells the story of how she got involved in a cult…and how she eventually got out.

Take a listen here.

Hello Russia, are you there?

I have to admit, when Edward Snowden leaked all the information from the NSA in 2013 I wasn’t paying enough attention. I was focused on my own world, finishing my undergraduate degree and studying abroad. I knew that something happened with some guy named Edward Snowden regarding highly classified information. That was about the extent of my knowledge. In the past four years I’ve learned more about what exactly happened and the ramifications of what Snowden did.

Pod Save the People’s DeRay Mckesson speaks with Edward Snowden about the recent firing of FBI director James Comey by President Trump. The combination of Snowden, who is still in Russia facing charges from the United States government and DeRay, a member of the Black Lives Matter movement discussing security and surveillance is absolutely fascinating. Take a listen here from 5.12.17.

 

Just a casual 11,000 mile drive.

Did you know that you can drive from London to Mongolia? You didn’t? It’s okay, I didn’t either. But every year, during the Mongol Rally, hundreds of teams attempt to make the trek. The catch? The 11,000 mile drive must be completed in a shit car. It’s one of the only rules from the race organizers – seriously. Part of the fun of the rally is breaking down somewhere completely random and trying to figure it out. This also means that a lot of teams don’t make it to the finish line and don’t get to take those epic finish line photos.

Scott Gurian, his brother Drew, and their friends Rosi and Jane, finished the rally in seven weeks. That’s an average of about 225 miles a day. My road trip last summer was only about 9,000 miles, and that was with the added bonus of having a reliable car. And a cell phone that worked most of the time. And no problems finding people who spoke english. This rally sounds bonkers. And I love it. I can’t stop listening to Scott’s far.from.home podcast. It makes me want to do the Mongol Rally myself one day. If you’re an aspiring traveller like myself, I highly recommend listening to all the episodes so far (and those to come). Specifically though, I’d recommend listening to Episode 8: An Eye Opening Experience about their experiences while traveling through Iran.

I know a lot of people who would dismiss travel to Iran simply because of the rhetoric of our current administration. Hate, xenophobia, and false information lead many American’s beliefs towards the people of Iran and other muslim-majority Middle East countries. They are perhaps afraid that as Americans, they will be seen as the enemy if they travel to the Middle East. This is not the experience that Scott and Drew had, however. Most Iranians were excited to meet and talk to the brothers. I wish that the American public would stop generalizing entire nations and religions as ‘bad,’ as this will not help anyone. Check out Team Donundestan’s trip through Iran.