Mapping police brutality

I’m sure this only scratches the surface because it only tracks incidents of police violence that are reported on Twitter but I really appreciate folks (including Durham lawyer Greg Doucette) for putting this together.

See also The Guardian‘s site The Counted, which they created to track police killings in 2015 because no-one else was even doing it.

Pence, McConnell, & Trump

It’s not incompetence

I cannot understand people’s insistence on believing that Republicans are failing because they are incompetent. They are extremely strategic, they just don’t have any intrinsic morality. They will grab all the money and power within reach, and they’ll believe it was right if they don’t get caught.

Even in the areas where they simply lack the skills or capacity needed to govern, that is a strategic choice. They don’t want there to be an effective safety net, schools, public health, transportation network, public safety, healthy environment, or anything that connects us socially or culturally.

People who are poor, sick, isolated, scared, and hopeless are easier to manipulate, especially by authoritarians that appeal to the worst parts of human nature, ie: Republicans.

Rant inspired by this Twitter thread:

simulation results

Quarantine for kids

After screaming into the void for weeks on Twitter about the desperate need for massive testing and rapid social isolation, we are now living that quarantine life. Like many parents I am trying not to terrify my child (and myself), but unlike many parents I will not sugarcoat things. Especially after spending decades talking about how our political leaders are failing us, I am not going to lie about the fact that we are all suffering now because those failures have come home to roost.

I know my child thinks I am going a little overboard with this quarantine business, so showed him a few visuals to help him understand. These were the most helpful things we looked at today.

  1. Washington Post simulator showing the difference in infections between different policies such as partial quarantine and social distancing.
  2. The now-ubiquitous #FlattenTheCurve chart show how rapid spread will overwhelm the medical system. This available everywhere, we looked at
  3. A young man from Wuhan’s TikTok videos that show his experience in Wuhan (start at the last one).

white man holding a sign that says "hug a Trump supporter"

Scumbags for Sanders?

My friends who like Bernie Sanders keep telling me that he disavows the bros and toxicity that his supporters are known for. Then yesterday the Sanders campaign proudly tweeted the endorsement of an absolutely hateful scumbag, Joe Rogan.

It’s one thing to accept an endorsement from someone you don’t entirely agree with, it’s entirely another to EMBRACE AND HIGHLIGHT it as a sign of the kind of support you have. Especially given the deficit of trust Sanders already has, this sends a clear message to marginalized people that we will be thrown under the bus at the first opportunity to get some sexist, homophobic white nationalists on board.

I voted for Sanders in 2016, and I will be glad to vote for him (maybe even volunteer) in the general election if he wins the primary. But I absolutely will not support him when I have progressive alternatives like Elizabeth Warren who clearly actually gives a crap about people like me (and you). And I am also having a hard time swallowing friends’ continued support for Sanders. I can’t help but trust people a little less when I see you still defending him.

I didn’t know about Rogan before, I think he does something sporty? So here is more context:

Here is the absolute most important reason that this really matters:

A Black woman in her 80s wearing a t-shirt that says "I had an abortion."

I had an abortion. I also have white privilege.

I have the same shirt as 86-year-old Florence Rice in this photo. But thanks to quite a bit of privilege in my life, I don’t have the same story.

Florence Rice, 86 (at the time the photo was taken), was raised in the foster care system in NYC. She saw her mother only a handful of times throughout her childhood. When she got pregnant as a young single woman in the 1930’s she decided to have the baby. A few years later as a working single mother, she found herself pregnant again and knew that she didn’t want to be like her mother – unable to take care for the child. She made the decision to have an abortion. Unfortunately, she received her abortion from an illegal provider, and contracted a serious illness afterwards.
In 1969 when feminists began speaking out about their abortions, Florence was one of the first to do so. Her story underscored a class divide: richer women got safer abortions, poorer women were more likely to end up at a butcher.

– Tara Todras-Whitehill,

Congressional Slut Shaming

The more I think about Congresswoman Katie Hill resigning the more pissed off I get. The fact is she could have stayed in Congress and served her district while admitting and atoning for her mistakes (like so many Republicans have made), except that her ex-husband is punishing her by illegally sharing private files.

It’s this dangerous SLUT SHAMING that made her resign, not her own actions. And as a result, women (especially those of us that are are also queer and ethically non-monogamous) get knocked back down a few pegs in society and lose an advocate in Congress.

Mother and son walking away from the camera in a park, with long shadows behind them

A Mom’s Abortion Story

 I was 17 and looking forward to escaping high school and going to college. 

12th grade school potrait in the late 80's

I was independent, an only child raised by busy single parents with their own social lives. I was intelligent, but insecure. I used sex as a way to get affection and feel wanted. I dropped by an older friend’ house one boring spring afternoon, and one thing led to another. I asked him to put on a condom, but he ignored me. Maybe you would have the confidence to stop things right then. I didn’t.

And so I found myself in the summer before my senior year of high school trying to have a normal teen-aged good time and avoiding the slowly dawning realization that there was a reason my clothes were fitting differently, that I ate an entire jar of pickles in 10 minutes, that I nearly passed out one hot day. 

When I finally admitted to myself that I was pregnant, I began to imagine how life with a baby would work in a dormitory at UNC-Chapel Hill, where I hoped to attend. I had envisioned what a great mom I would be for years, it was just happening a lot sooner than I had expected. The fact that I thought that living with a baby and a roommate in a dorm room was something I could handle, or even something that would ever be permitted by the university, should let you know how ill-equipped I was to parent anyone at that age. 

In the fall, I finally came clean to my father. He took it well, in his characteristically chill fashion, but he was not about to let me keep dreaming that I could have a baby and go to college at the same time. His girlfriend, at the time, was a sophisticated woman, a professional art dealer who took care of herself. She was a Republican, which made it even more surprising when she sat down with me one day to share the story of the abortion that she had in college. More than anyone else, she helped to convince me I would be a much better parent if I waited.  If I focused on college and getting my professional life started, I would have the financial means and emotional maturity to parent well. 

By the time I went to an OB/GYN, I was well into my second trimester. Fortunately, I was able to have a late-term abortion in a local hospital. It was a horrible experience, but one which I have never regretted. If many Republican lawmakers had their way, I wouldn’t have had that option. Instead I would have been forced into motherhood before even graduating from high school. Instead of earning a degree in environmental science and beginning what would eventually turn into a successful career as a nonprofit technologist, I would probably have been working a minimum wage job and caught in a cycle of poverty that would be hard to break with a baby to take care of and no education.

I always held on to the idea that I was saving my mothering talents for the right time. Many years later, that time came for me. I was in a committed partnership with someone who wanted to be a parent with me. I don’t judge others who become parents in other conditions, but this was how I wanted to do it at the time. We got married, bought a house, and set about trying to make a baby. Before long, I was pregnant. But just at the very end of the first trimester, I started to bleed and I realized it was over. I had a miscarriage that was incredibly painful both emotionally and physically. After waiting a lifetime to be the mother I had always dreamed of, I was afraid that I might now be unable to conceive.

After a lot of thought, I realized that I would still have a complete and satisfying life even if I never had a biological child. And you can guess what happened once I stopped worrying. Of course, I got pregnant again. This time my pregnancy went perfectly – even if the doctors did insist on calling me “geriatric” for being over 35. Twenty years after my abortion, I gave birth to a perfect, healthy and wanted baby.

I’ll never be the world’s best mom, but in those 20 years I didn’t just build a career and buy a house. I found spiritual grounding as a Buddhist. I volunteered on municipal and nonprofit boards, and became an influential activist for a variety of causes. I made the world a better place and improved myself in the process.

Boy smiling with his mother's arm around him

I’m able to give my son a global perspective and help him find his own ways to grow up and give back. This year he started 5th grade and I am so grateful that I was able to bring him into the world intentionally and give him a life where he is well cared for and free to explore and become the creative whirlwind he is destined to be. He is all the proof I need that I made the right decision three decades ago.

The more I talk about my abortion, the more I hear from others who had them too. The more I realize that this experience I kept secret from even my closest friends at the time was actually incredibly common. 

The more I talk about my abortion, the more other people realize their choices were valid too. Maybe their family will never understand, maybe their coworkers wouldn’t like it, but they should feel no shame for making the decisions they did. There is not a single elected official in the world that knows better than we do what we should do with our bodies or how we should live our lives.

My story was originally published at

Tara and Ruby, mis-presentation

“But I’m Not Privileged”

Last week I had the opportunity to co-present with Tara King a talk about diversity and inclusion in the Drupal community. After each time we do this presentation we’ve learned from the audience and made improvements to make the session more helpful. This was my fourth time giving this talk (although other Drupal Diversity and Inclusion leaders have also done it) and I feel like it is getting much more effective at helping people better understand and advocate around issues of equity and justice in tech (and in the world).

For your enjoyment and edification, here is But I’m Not Privileged” – Why diversity, equity, & inclusion are everyone’s problem:

Photo credit: Dan Flicker