Centering the circle


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A lot of us are thinking about racism during the past few weeks and the way it impacts people we love – a lot of us have been living under the violence of that racism for past centuries.  For those of us who don’t live the horrors of racism directly, there are still a lot of emotions that go along with that: anger and helplessness at the injustice we see, fear for people we love, and maybe even some anxiety over difficult conversations we have been having, or are gearing up to have, with people who just don’t get it.  As a nonblack person, I am one of many people trying to be allies, who will always have more to listen and to learn about how best to be supportive to our loved ones of color.

Recently, I messed up.  It’s an instinctive thing to reach out to the people we care about for support, and I reached out to the DDP editing circle for support with the anxiety I felt about upcoming difficult conversations about race with my family members over Thanksgiving.  In doing so, I redirected attention away from the people who are directly experiencing this violence.  Whatever my anxiety about engaging with ignorant family over the holiday, the conversations the black community was gearing up for over their Thanksgiving dinners would be far more somber.  All I had to do was get my family to open their eyes and see the violence; black folks and their families must have conversations to explain to their children that they are the targets of that violence. Continue reading

What We’re Reading: December Edition

Hey Disruptors!

Welcome to the latest edition of What We’re Reading, a collection of links we email to each other when we should probably be working or studying. This week comes with bonus mood music, an incredible protest anthem by the love of my life musician John Legend and featuring Common — Glory. So press play and settle in with your new reading material for this week.

What have you been reading? What’s got you salivating with excitement/rage? Tell us in the comments!

Sleepy Hollow Delivers Where Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder Fail


i’m sold

Originally posted on Erika Turner:

Lieutenant Abigail Mills is the answer to our black-women-on-TV dreams.

            When Scandal first came out two and half years ago, I was excited because I understood the hype. For the first time in over 20 years, a black woman, Kerry Washington, would be leading a primetime drama, beneath the guidance of Shonda Rhimes’ skilled hands. Though I frequently dedicate hours of my life to watching Grey’s Anatomy these days, I had actually stopped watching the show around the third season. I hadn’t begun my binge-watching fanaticism by the time of Scandal’s arrival, so I had missed much of the Shonda fervor firsthand and knew of her competence only through the filter of a passing article headline. I had no idea how Shonda dealt with “diversity,” which she was so praised for, but I knew she was a black woman directing a show about a black woman, which is far…

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7 Policies to advocate for #BlackLivesMatter


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In my social circles online and in person, I’ve seen and heard people wondering what they can do in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. I certainly can’t claim to speak for the movement, but from what I’ve heard and read from other participants, I’ve compiled a short, non-exhaustive list of policies you can support to end police profiling, brutality, and impunity against Black folks in the US.

A Black woman with tape over her mouth on which the words "I can't breathe" are written

Photo by Carl Juste via AP

Of course, changing policy is only one way to take action on this issue. At the heart of this is changing the value placed on Black lives, by society, by individuals, and by institutions. There are also non-policy-focused ways you can affect change, like helping change attitudes among your personal social network,donating to organizations leading the movement or to the victims and victims’ families, speaking out publicly against racism whenever you see it, and participating in actions out in the streets. If you’re White and wondering what to do, here are twelve ideas to get you started.

BYP 100 has a brilliant document of policy recommendations, which have inspired many items on this list. I highly recommend reading it in full for more details than this short list will include.

1.Establishing citizen review boards
Citizen review boards with firing power can create consequences for police brutality that the current system fails to do. Here’s one example of what that would look like. I’ve also heard people advocate for a federal division to prosecute local law enforcement violence, perhaps in the Civil Rights section of the Justice Department.

2. Demilitarization of police
Call your Congressional representatives in support of H. R. 5478, to end “Program 1033″ which allows the Pentagon to sell war equipment to local police stations. The bill is bipartisan, but right now Congressional Republicans are blocking it. Find out which reps are blocking it and start calling campaigns in their districts. You can also advocate for demilitarization from a local level–find out whether your municipality participates in 1033 and pressure them not to. Continue reading

5 Ways to Amplify the Voices of Trans women, Cis women, Non-binary folks, and Trans men in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

I’ll be honest, the last week (month? year? decade?) or so has not been fun. The U.S. “justice” system is intent on communicating its lack of regard for black life. But, the silver lining has been witnessing the growth of a persistent and powerful nationwide movement to declare that #blacklivesmatter.

What we don’t need in this moment of pain and opportunity is a movement that ignores trans women, cis women, gender nonconforming/non-binary folks, and trans men who are impacted by state enacted and state sanctioned violence. We also don’t need a movement that silences the voices of all the bad ass people from those communities who are fighting against it. If you are part of this movement- on social media, in the streets, in your cubicle, or anywhere else- here are some steps you can take to make sure these voices are amplified:

1. If people talk about how black “(cis) men and children” are dying from state sanctioned violence, correct them. If the names of women or trans people or gender nonconforming folks are missing from a list of victims, add them.

Continue reading

Pathologizing Trans Identities: Beyond the DSM


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As one of our readers helpfully pointed out in reply to Kate’s awesome post and the resulting discussion on the future of feminism, there has been some question about whether or not being trans is still considered to be a mental disorder by the DSM.  In the DSM 5, the current version of the diagnostic and statistical manual that mental health clinicians use in the United States and elsewhere to diagnose their patients, the answer is no, though understanding why requires understanding DSM diagnostic procedures beyond the main criteria.  However, the updated diagnosis, now re-named “Gender dysphoria,” is not without its problems.  And unfortunately, the institutional pathologizing of Trans people and identities does not end with the DSM.

Since I do not identify as Trans, it is not my place to comment on how this impacts people who do.  The goal of this post is solely to shed light on some important things going on in our healthcare system.

This thing is the tip of the iceberg.

This is the tip of the iceberg.

Continue reading

New Video Game “Never Alone” Brings Native Alaskan Stories to Life


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Video games have had an interesting journey. Increasing in complexity and sophistication, they are today’s most interactive way to tell a story. Recently, they entered the mainstream, no longer regarded as the lonely bastion of nerddome and geekery. This year has been particularly interesting in the world of video games and gamers. We have seen a lot of discussion in the mainstream media about the roles of games in our society. (We touched on this subject in our Feminists Are Ruining Video Games post). Feminist media critics have called attention to the dearth of women and minorities in video games themselves as well as among the developers. While big titles like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty are not very progressive in their politics, there are many games that are doing something innovative and beautiful with the genre. One such game is Never Alone.

neveralone Continue reading

Video guest post: Mind Blowing Sex w/Blue-Skinned Alien Females!


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This is a guest post by Christa Blackmon in collaboration with Youtube series PaulTalks

Some people say the greatest sex organ on a human being is the brain. Fantasy is an essential part of our sexuality so it should come as no surprise that when we started dreaming up creatures from other planets we also started thinking about how we could f*ck them.

I sat down with gender activist Paul Roth to talk about this very specific alien fantasy: the blue skinned alien woman who can connect not only with your body, but with your mind.

We take a look at three examples in popular science fiction from the last twenty years: Zotoh Zhaan in the Australian TV series Farscape, Neytiri in James Cameron’s Avatar, and Liara T’Soni in the Mass Effect video game series.

What’s the deal with their incredibly specialized sexual talents? Is it a harmful fantasy or is it a sign that our culture is broadening its ideas of sexual connection? And what’s so hot about the color blue, anyway? Watch the video to find out and tell us what you think!

Christa Blackmon is a freelance writer specializing in conflict, gender, and science fiction living in Washington, DC. You can follow her at @TheOdalisque.

Continue reading

Your Brain on Psych Meds? Part II


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This is Part II of a series about how drugs for mental illness affect my brain. For Part I, click here.

Throughout my struggle with mental illness and my experimentation with medication, I’ve noticed that it’s very difficult to find detailed information about how different drugs affect different people. There’s lots of info about people experiencing the more uncommon, severe side effects, but very little chronicling of the day-to-day changes in mood, or information about how long things take to work.

Once again, everyone’s different, so psychiatrists will never tell you “this is when you’ll begin experiencing results.” And that’s perfectly fine. But I’ve found that just knowing a handful of other people have had a similar experience to me calms me down significantly, and allows me to weather the rough process of adjusting to a new medication. So without further ado, here is some information on how my experience as a patient under the care of a psychiatrist taking Sertraline (a common Zoloft substitute), and Lamotrigine (a generic form of Lamictal) has been.

This is an update about ten months after I began taking Sertraline, and about four months after I started taking Lamotrigine.

I’m still about 5’3″, still have two X chromosomes, and am about 140lbs. I take 50mg of generic Zoloft, continuous birth control for suppression of my period, and ~17.5mg Lamotrigine, which is a mood stabilizer.

I’ve added a drug but aside from that nothing much has changed in my Zoloft Journey. I haven’t changed or upped my dose, and I’ve continued to experience the same symptoms–slight difficulty sleeping, reduced sex drive, a few more headaches. Otherwise, smooth sailing.

I read a lot when I was first starting on Zoloft about it suddenly not working for people anymore, and that scared me. So I’m happy to report that after ten months, it’s still working just fine.

Lamotrigine has been more of a mixed bag for me. The initial mood-stablizing was wonderful. I cannot remember the last time I didn’t have wild mood swings. Unfortunately, it came with some serious sleep side-effects and even more sex drive suppression. However, I sleep well enough, and I can still have orgasms, so the side effects are manageable.

The effects of Lamotrigine that I found unbearable started occurring about a month after I started the drug. It had just leveled me out too much. I started noticing that although I wasn’t feeling as anxious or irritable, I also wasn’t really ever feeling very happy. It continued to get worse until a few weeks after I moved to Vermont I realized I wasn’t capable of feeling joy anymore. I had gotten a check in the mail for an article I’d written for a blog–making me a PAID FREELANCER, something that should have sent me over the moon with joy–and felt only vaguely pleased. I decided to lower my dose. Unfortunately, there is a severe shortage of psychiatrists in Vermont,  so I began to wean myself off Lamotrigine without direct supervision by a psychiatrist. I have both a therapist and a primary care provider as a backup in case something went wrong, but this was still a dangerous thing to do. It is not safe to make changes to your medication without consulting your doctor. However, I know that people do it anyway, so I wanted to share what happened with me.

Continue reading

Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue


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Tonight the editors and community of Disrupting Dinner Parties wait for the outcome to be announced by the grand jury on whether or not to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Michael Brown Jr. to death while Michael was unarmed.  While we wait, remember that we live in an era in which all of us, no matter how physically far we are from what is happening, can act as witnesses.  This is a responsibility that we must take seriously in the coming days and weeks.  Your decision, our decision, to closely watch and speak up about the actions police take toward protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, can help keep people safe.

DDP is of course not a breaking news station: we encourage you to continue monitoring your chosen news sources in order to stay informed.  However, we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that this subject is on the minds of our community this evening as we hope for justice.  We intend this open thread to be a safe place for our community to express your thoughts and feelings about the news once it does break, whatever the outcome may be.

Update: We are deeply saddened and outraged to note that the grand jury has chosen to not bring charges against Darren Wilson.




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