There’s this pattern that happens with abusive spouses. They often explain to their victims how to behave so they won’t get beaten up again. All the victim needs to do is give them proper respect, not burn their dinner, remember to leave out their slippers at the right place, never buy the wrong brand of toothpaste, never make them feel like they are being laughed at, never give them attitude or make them mad. And then, supposedly, they’ll be safe.
Of course, the abuser is not actually owed any of those things in the first place. And in any case, it’s always a lie. It’s a losing game. The abuse will continue, because periodic reminders of control are necessary and because the abuser will keep finding new things to add to the reasons they were “forced” to administer a beating.
This was one of the first things I thought of when I heard the details of the police portion of a recent “workshop” on police encounters that Albany youth were forced to attend as part of the city’s summer employment program. Continue reading
Charlie Kraebel, managing editor of the Troy Record and the Saratogian had a little “showing his true colors” accident in an opinion column this weekend, in which he was mighty distressed at the launching of the Upstate NY Black Lives Matter chapter. Before you read it, I recommend having a cushion nearby for when you feel the desire to bang your head on something hard.
He has basically three main arguments: First, that black people can’t demand that cops stop killing them for no reason until crime committed by black people against other black people is eradicated. Second, that Black Lives Matter activists don’t really care about Dontay Ivy’s family, just their dastardly agenda. And third, that the Black Lives Matter movement nationally has been all about causing riots and defending “thugs.”
Let’s take these one at a time. Continue reading
On Monday, Jan 25., I joined the group of protestors who disrupted the beginning of Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s state of the city speech. It was a very powerful, really well organized action, a demonstration of a community coming together and insisting on being heard. That latter bit is more important than how the mayor reacted. (Hear more from the organizers here.)
However, she did engage the crowd for a while, and a bunch of things have been rattling around in my head about what she said. I wanted to spell them out, especially for people who don’t really understand why what she said met with negative reactions. Continue reading
Having an unexpected chance at a last-minute final column for Metroland, is a blessing and a curse. No pressure, after an almost-12-year run. At first I scrambled to try to assemble a column on one of the topics I hadn’t gotten to, wanting to just continue as I had been, but over the holidays and it being a big topic, I couldn’t pull it together properly.
Instead, I will leave you with a distinctly non-exhaustive spattering of some questions I didn’t get to, or that I (and plenty others) have written about but remain important and unanswered, some rhetorical, some deeply not. Though Metroland was one important place we could have conversations like these, it needn’t be the only one. Continue reading
Some people are a little bit upset about the city of Albany’s decision to install red light cameras.
OK, perhaps I am understating a little bit. Many people—most, from my unscientific survey, though not all, white men—are apoplectic. Continue reading
Grief lasts a lot longer than anger. Anger burns itself out, but grief comes in steady waves.
When I look around at the tremendous outpouring of #BlackLivesMatter activism of these past weeks, of I Can’t Breathe marches, of schoolchildren and congressional aides walking out and dying in, athletes speaking up, and beautiful acts of bravery and solidarity, I see a movement fueled by grief first. The anger is there too, of course, as it damn well should be, and it is powerful and articulate. But I see the staying power of this as being driven by a deep well of grief, and I think that’s likely part of its power. Continue reading
Outside my house, two young African-American boys, maybe 9 or 10, scoot by on skateboards. One is carrying something on a leaf and stops to show me a giant slug. We chat about it a bit; I tell him that I looked up what kind of slug that was recently but now don’t remember.
He tells me the other boy had tried to run over it but he saved it. I give him a smile and thumbs up, not because I have any strong feelings about saving slugs’ lives, but because of the compassionate impulse behind it. He zooms off. A few minutes later the other boy comes back, looking concerned and says “You wanted me?” Continue reading