Black History Month: Belle

I described Belle to a friend as “an 18th-century period piece interrogating race and class — with romance, and pretty dresses.” The poster alone sends a little jolt: here’s a typical Jane Austen adaptation-type poster, with a pretty young woman in a gorgeous dress, in a well-appointed room, hands demurely clasped in front of her, awaiting the man that will be a good match for her. But this pretty young woman isn’t white, as all the others in all the other posters are; she’s black.


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Black History Month

For longer than I’ve been alive, the US has celebrated Black History Month in February.  The risk of having a month like this is that schools and other institutions only focus on the struggles, accomplishments, contributions, and real-life issues and joys of black folks during the shortest month of the year. But if done right, it can be a jumping-off point to discussing these things and setting them properly in the wider historical and social context.

For every day in the month of February, I’m going to write about a piece of art made by a black person. I’m mostly going to focus on those works of art I enjoy and/or things I think are well done, but there may be the occasional reassessment of a favorite. Why me, a white woman in her mid-30s? Well, it’s my blog and I want to, hello, welcome. But also, a big part of our problem is white folks not paying enough attention or engaging critically enough with black folks’ words and work. I can be part of that re-engagement.

So tune in every day now through the 28th for more!

Spoiler alert: I’ll be doing the same thing for Women’s History Month in March.

black history month


Where Not to Go in 2018, According to Fodor’s

I love this article from Fodor’s, in which they detail the top 10 places you shouldn’t go in 2018. In the introduction, the editors emphasize that they love these places, but that for various reasons we should give them a miss for at least this year. Several of them are under environmental threat from so many visitors — the Galapagos Islands, various Thai islands, Machu Picchu. They recommend against other places for different reasons, for example they suggest that Americans don’t go to Cuba just yet because the American government has strict rules about what you’re allowed to do and see, which goes against the spirit of travel.

They also recommend against visiting three places because the human rights abuses there are so bad that they fear for travelers’ safety and also they don’t want us giving our tourist dollars to these regimes: Myanmar, Honduras, and Missouri. Myanmar is committing genocide against the Rohingya people, the police in Honduras target LGBTQ people for abuse and even murder, and the police violence and lack of legal repercussions in Missouri is such a problem that the NAACP has issued a travel advisory for the whole state.

Kudos to Fodor’s for facing the uglier side of travel head-on, and for naming and shaming the powerful groups that make some destinations unsafe for all but a very narrow slice of humanity. It can be tricky to decide whether you should visit a place and support the locals with your tourist dollars despite the bad choices their government is making, or whether staying away will help pressure that government to change. I really want to visit Russia and take the Trans-Siberian Railway, for example, but Putin and his cronies’ treatment of just about everyone is so vile that I can’t stomach the idea. Yet I’m planning a trip to Israel, and that government’s treatment of Palestinians is terrible. I make these decisions on a case-by-case basis. How about you? Do you have a set of criteria for things that might make you skip a place on principle?

Advent Calendar for Social Justice

Check out the Advent Calendar for Social Justice here!

We have one month left before we’re in 2017, and although it’s tempting to just curl up into a ball until it’s over, we know that we need to prepare to live in a Trump world. (For the many people who see how this year has just pulled back the mask on what wasn’t all that well hidden to begin with – I hear you. I’m sorry it’s taking some of us so long to figure it out.) Okay, so let’s live in this world, let’s make it as good as we possibly can, and let’s do it together.


I used to be a weekly churchgoer, and the rhythms of the church year still echo in my life. The season leading up to Christmas is called Advent. Advent is a time of preparation, during which Christians prepare for the coming of the savior of the world. They prepare for the end of the world as we know it and the arrival of a better world we can barely imagine. This year, we are preparing for what certainly feels like the end of the world, and it’s hard to see anything beyond it. Trump is the opposite of a savior, no matter how he brands himself in his populist speeches. So this year we need to prepare ourselves to be our own saviors, to save ourselves from what we’ve allowed to happen. (I’m speaking mostly to my fellow straight white cis folks here – people of color and queer folk have been doing the heavy lifting since forever.)

This election seems to have served as a wake-up call for many of us. It’s not right that it took a loss that will devastate so many lives and alter the fabric of our democracy to serve as such, but here we are. So now what? is the question I see most frequently on Facebook, Twitter, in the news. There are a lot of good answers out there, from better thinkers than I. Read them, discuss them with friends and family, take action.

But for what it’s worth, here is my “what now?” response. Advent is a time of preparation, so let’s prepare. For each day of December, I’m going to take concrete action that makes me more prepared to resist the Trump presidency, or that offers some resistance now, or that contributes something good and kind to the world. Some of these actions can be done anywhere in the world, and some are US-specific.

I also think it’s important to do a mix of overtly political and more community-building or “good deeds” type things. Especially if you haven’t been politically active before, you may find this a little intimidating, but what we’ve seen from the way Trump’s campaign was run, and now after the election, is that white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, and homophobia play a prominent role in people’s political decisions and everyday lives. Coaching Little League builds community, yes, please keep doing that — but also see how you can assist your local Black Lives Matter chapter, to build community in that way as well. And artists — keep creating, always. Artists are vital.


Will you join me for this month? Especially for people who wouldn’t normally consider themselves political, or who don’t have much experience with activism, I tried to make this an accessible collection of things to do that will show how easy it is to fit these things into our busy lives, and how it’s not that scary to do.

If you have suggestions, please comment. Share this with anyone you like. The key is to take action, and to do it together. So call your mom, talk to your coworker, make a new friend, and go all in. As Angela Davis recently said, “How do we begin to recover from this shock? By experiencing and building and rebuilding and consolidating community. Community is the answer.”

Here is where I was going to put the calendar, but I can’t get it to embed. So please click through to the Advent Calendar for Social Justice. Be sure to click on each day to see notes and useful links with further info for each action item.

This calendar is intended as a helpful tool for people who want to do something, but aren’t sure where to start. I hope it will help you sample different ways of taking action, so that in the new year, you’ll be better prepared to really dig in to volunteering, donating, and organizing roles. I’d love your feedback. I consider it a live document and will adjust it as necessary.

Shout-out to Liz and Emmett for providing excellent advice and action items.


Resources for Educating Yourself and Taking Action:
Accomplices Not Allies
A List of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry Organizations That Need Your Support
Oh Crap! What Now? A Survival Guide
Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice
“We’re His Problem Now” Calling Sheet
What Educators Can Do to Support Undocumented Students
What to Do Instead of Calling the Police

Organizations Fighting the Good Fight:
American Civil Liberties Union
Amnesty International
Black Lives Matter
Campaign Zero
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Emily’s List
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Disability Rights Network
National Women’s Law Center
Planned Parenthood
Showing Up for Racial Justice
Southern Poverty Law Center
Sylvia Rivera Law Project
The True Colors Fund
Welcoming Refugees

Image 1. Image 2. Image 3.


#EndAusterityNow Demo in London

I got a rush on Saturday that I hadn’t felt in years, the kind I get when I’m in a large action with other people, all of us united for a common cause. I’ve been traveling around for the last three years, so I haven’t been in the kind of protests I joined in Chicago or my hometown. It felt good to join in with tens of thousands of people (estimates range from 70,000 to 250,000) and raise our voices on behalf of the many. And the many were saying–forget austerity, embrace true prosperity for all.

#EndAusterityNow Demo in London

Austerity in Britain has had the usual effect of making the poor poorer and the rich richer, and the new cuts to social programs being proposed and implemented now will drastically change the fabric of British society, in a way that we Americans have a hard time understanding, because the Brits started with more than we’ve ever won for ourselves. To lose these social programs is truly devastating.

There've already been too many cuts--the system can't handle any more

There’ve already been too many cuts–the system can’t handle any more

I marched with friends in the National Union of Teachers block, which had the benefit of putting me in a group that I’m entirely comfortable with and fully supportive of (pretty much everyone I know is a teacher), and putting me right near the start of the march. By the time we walked the 2.5 miles from Bank in the City of London to Parliament Square in the City of Westminster, some people at the back had barely made it past the starting point.

Hare Krishnas got everyone in a festive mood while we waited for the march to start

Hare Krishnas got everyone in a festive mood while we waited for the march to start

People used to shout "Maggie, Maggie, Maggie" "Out, Out, Out!" at anti-Thatcher demos in the '80s. Today, a simple "Tory, Tory, Tory" will get the same response.

None of the major political parties is officially anti-austerity. Everyone’s buying into the big lie. Except the Greens, bless ’em (and possibly SNP as well).

We stood pretty near the stage in Parliament Square and listened to an impressive succession of short speeches. The organizers kept the people talking to a maximum of three minutes each, and everyone was on-message about how these cuts would hurt the most needy of society, and how the Conservatives won the election but they hardly have a mandate for austerity, and how we all need to keep up the pressure to change these harmful policies before they get any farther. (Not to mention they want to ax the Human Rights Act and re-fund the nuclear weapons program, which is so impossibly backwards it must be the premise to a dystopian sci-fi novel.)

Along the march

Along the march

Over and over, they reminded us that it wasn’t the nurses and teachers who created the financial crisis, it was the bankers. It’s not the millionaires who need these programs, it’s the disabled, the domestic violence victims, the hungry. And it’s not the UK that’s going to thrive in austerity, it’s the bankers and millionaires.

I live tweeted some of the speeches, so most of these I don’t have proper attribution–I wasn’t familiar with all the speakers so I don’t remember all their names.

‘We’re the 6th richest nation on the planet, don’t tell me we can’t afford the NHS’

People used to shout "Maggie, Maggie, Maggie" "Out, Out, Out!" at anti-Thatcher demos in the '80s. Today, a simple "Tory, Tory, Tory" will get the same response.

People used to shout “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie” “Out, Out, Out!” at anti-Thatcher demos in the ’80s. Today, a simple “Tory, Tory, Tory” will get the same response.

‘If you make our lives unbearable, we will make this society ungovernable’

In a nutshell

In a nutshell

‘If they thought they won the war with austerity on May the 8th, they need to think again’

Not sure what the smoke bombs were about, but there were different colors throughout the march

Not sure what the smoke bombs were about, but there were different colors throughout the march

‘They were worried about that building crumbling [pointing to the Houses of Parliament]. I’m more worried about democracy crumbling.’ Caroline Lucas

‘It looks to me like socialism is far from an anachronism. It’s back in fashion. Keep fighting, this is just the beginning’

‘David Cameron, you are wrong. This is what I call an opposition!’

I love this way of phrasing it--it gets to the idea of how undemocratic this election result was (24% of the popular vote is no majority)

I love this way of phrasing it–it gets to the idea of how undemocratic this election result was (24% of the popular vote is no majority)

‘Our victory will be your victory’ message from Greece

Greek flags at the ready

Greek flags at the ready

‘If you think the rich should pay their taxes, shout as loud as you can’

#EndAusterityNow Demo in London #EndAusterityNow Demo in London #EndAusterityNow Demo in London

‘I’m proud to be British because of our national health service, our welfare system, and David Bowie’ Charlotte Church

‘Austerity is about divide and rule. It’s about destroying the things that give us our humanity so the powerful can stay in power’ Francesca Martinez

#EndAusterityNow Demo in London


We left during Jeremy Corbyn’s speech (he’s the only candidate for Labour leader who’s anti-austerity–vote accordingly!), because you know, after several hours marching and rallying, nature does call. (Apparently I missed Owen Jones and Russell Brand, both of whom I wouldn’t mind seeing sometime.)

Lovely,simple design on this sign

Lovely, simple design on this sign

So the final speech I heard in full was from Francesca Martinez, a comedian I’m not familiar with but definitely want to hear more of. Her speech was my favorite. She celebrated the social programs of Britain as examples of humanity at its best, and she decried the actual evil of those who want to cut them down to nothing as part of a program to fix an economy that those same people in power broke in the first place with their banking schemes. We must fight for these programs in a fight for our better selves and a better humanity. She said, ‘Every one of us has a duty to each other to protect what is beautiful about being human.’ I can’t think of a better way to phrase why I went on the demo on Saturday–and why I’ll go to more.

#EndAusterityNow Demo in London

Happy New Year 2015

Happy New Year! Here’s to a year more just and kind than the last. May the fight against systemic injustice grow stronger, and may those who try to uphold those systems change their minds and their ways.

For 2015, I’ve got another list of New Year’s Celebrations to look forward to:

  • Go to several of the museums in my new city
  • Spend an entire day reading
  • Explore a part of Britain I’ve never been to before
  • Bake a pie
  • Find a real ale I can really enjoy (Britons are obsessed with it and I’m getting used to it)
  • Pick an event at random from one of the weekend guides and go to something I’d likely not have considered otherwise

How about you? Any non-resolutions this year?

Comic from the ever-wonderful Dinosaur Comics by Ryan North.

ACAM: Indonesia, or How a 19th Century Dutchman Helped Me Refine My Political Manifesto

While the people of the Middle East and northern Africa are staging wonderful revolutions based on the people’s will, we in the States are fighting hard to serve the needs of the many, and I tell you what, it is a discouraging time. I don’t have the energy to argue with people anymore about why cutting Title X funding is immoral or how disbanding unions will only hurt the economy, not fix state budgets. Things seem to be getting worse and worse, with fewer and fewer victories to brighten the mood.

When I first read the selection from Max Havelaar in The Indonesian Reader, I just got even more depressed. Here’s a piece published in 1860 by a Dutch administrator in colonial Java, written anonymously because it was so damning about the colonial government, and it spells out many of the same problems of inequality, passing the buck, and exploitation that plague the modern world. The excerpt describes a system that exploited the native people of Java and surrounding islands (not united into the country of Indonesia until 1949) as a labor force for Dutch business interests. This same system employed civil servants, regional administrators, and others who were too worried about keeping their jobs to report horrific abuses and deaths, lest those reports draw unfavorable attention to their regions. Rather than look to the needs of the people they were charged with protecting, they looked only to the bottom line and worked people harder to turn a bigger profit and get more acclaim from those back in the Netherlands.

I’m not saying that the union workers in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio are in the same situation as the Javanese workers in the 19th century. But the same impulse to human greed and domination runs through both stories, and the government happens to play the role of villain in both. That same story is played out over and over again throughout history, and that’s what struck me as I read this piece for the ACAM project. George Santayana’s famous “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” has been trotted out far too many times for it to hold much meaning anymore, but it’s still true, and that’s what scares me. Are we just going to repeat the same stories of oppression and futile resistance over and over, in various horrible forms the world over? And if so, of course the question then becomes, what’s the point in fighting?

I think the answer lies in how we view history. The popular view, certainly the American view, is the linear one; we’re moving in a straight line from barbarism to civilization, and it’s just one grand march of progress and improvement. The other view sees history as a big circle, with highs and lows coming and going as the natural course of things, an inevitable turning of fortune’s wheel. The strictly linear view is clearly false; we can see people reverting to customs and laws from the bad old days all the time, so we can’t always be moving forward. The circle view is too depressing; the human experience becomes an exercise in literally spinning our wheels.

How about a Hegelian compromise? I wish I had artistic skills, because I would draw you this picture I see in my head: a series of circles, moving along a line. Those circles are various wheels of progress, regression, enlightenment, and repression, and we move through those circles as ideas are introduced, developed, and tested. We jump to new circles once those ideas have been accepted into the common understanding, and those wheels keep us spinning slowly forward through history.

It’s the development of ideas that really gets us moving into new wheels of progress and improvement. For example, right now Walker and other politicians are doing their damnedest to do away with collective bargaining in their states and eventually the country as a whole, and they very well may succeed for a period of time. But the idea of collective bargaining, which at one point in history wasn’t even a possibility, has settled firmly in the national consciousness, and what’s more, the practice of that idea has shown how easily it can be done. That’s going to make it harder to kill the idea completely, and if an idea is still alive, a movement can still survive. What’s more (and here I’m trying real hard to be positive about the current national situation), when the idea of collective bargaining survives, it should survive as a stronger idea. Right now, we see collective bargaining as a luxury afforded to certain professions, rather than a basic right of workers worldwide. As we spin about in this wheel of government bullying and corporate greed, those who fight for workers’ rights may be able to convince the general public of this difference between luxury and human right, and at that moment, we will jump into the next wheel. That will have its own ups and downs, as spinning wheels do, but it will be within this broadened national consciousness, and the discussion will grow ever more equitable.

Just as slavery was once a fact of life and is now a banned and abhorred practice, though we still fight to free trafficked persons; just as women were once the property of their husbands and now hold national office, though we still fight for their bodily autonomy; just as sodomy was once a crime and now gays and lesbians live openly, though we still fight for their right to marry and raise families — in these ways, will we continue to make strides for human rights in a world of greed and corruption.

I still feel my blood pressure rise every time I read a newspaper, and I still cry when election results are announced, but throwing up my hands in despair and deeming it all too big a problem to fix just puts me at the mercy of that spinning wheel; if I stick with it and join with others for our collective good, I can help push us over to the next one, the one with a better starting point than the one I was born into.

As Multatuli says in Max Havelaar:

After all, who would maintain that he had seen a country where no wrong was ever done? But Havelaar held that this was no reason for allowing abuses to continue where one found them, especially when one was explicitly called upon to resist them.

And we are all called. Decency calls us, history calls us, the future calls us.

Like Your Quality of Life? A Union Did That

Even if you’ve never worked for a union in your life, they’ve worked for you. This nonsense about eliminating collective bargaining in the state of Wisconsin should be squashed–and fast–by the Wisconsin legislature, and condemned by politicians and media pundits alike across the country. We ALL benefit from the work of unions, and don’t think any differently:

Like having a weekend? A union did that.

Like having an 8-hour work day instead of 10 or 12 or 14? A union did that.

Like getting paid overtime on your non-exempt job? A union did that.

Like getting workman’s compensation when you’re injured on the job? A union did that.

Like your employer-sponsored health care as opposed to paying all out of pocket? A union did that.

Like your employer-sponsored pension, 401(k), or other retirement plan? A union did that.

Like your guaranteed break for every six hours worked? A union did that.

Like the safety provisions in place in your office/warehouse/job site? A union did that.

Like knowing that children under the age of 14 get to be in school and not a factory? A union did that.

Like being able to call in sick and not risk losing your job? A union did that.

These are NOT things that business owners granted to their employees out of their vision of a good workplace or the goodness of their heart. These are things that union members fought for tooth and nail. These are things that union members were intimidated, physically beaten, and in some cases, killed for fighting for. These are things that we all see as necessary components of a reasonable, pleasant workplace, but until the unions got involved, they weren’t a guarantee; hell, they weren’t even a possibility.

Say what you will about various mismanaged unions (aren’t so many organizations mismanaged and just in need of a shakeup?), but the fact of the matter is that the stronger unions are in a nation, the higher the quality of life is in that country, for union and non-union workers alike. Collective bargaining protects workers from employers focused more on profit than employee satisfaction and productivity, and it gives a voice to those who would otherwise be easily shut up and shut out.

“Good for business” shouldn’t mean “bad for workers,” but far too often it does. Choosing business bottom lines over the people who work hard for their employers isn’t a good business move, or the free market at work, or the American way–it’s cowardly, and it’s inhumane, and it has to stop.

The Good, The Bad, and The Silly

The Good

Several friends on Facebook posted this (author self-acknowledged) rant about how atheists have every right to be angry. I don’t identify as atheist, but I sure could agree with every single point she brought up (it’s kind of long but has pictures and is well worth a read).

No wonder so many Episcopalian bishops didn’t want to confirm Gene Robinson — the man has important, church-shaking things to say, like “It’s time for ‘tolerant’ religious people to acknowledge the straight line between the official anti-gay theologies of their denominations and the deaths of these young people.” I’m happy to see a higher-up from the church of my youth speak up so strongly. (Of course, presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has had some great fighting words and controversial stances as well.) (Via.)

Things one straight, cis, white man doesn’t have to think about today. Glad he is!

The Bad

Here’s a great breakdown of some of the many reasons women find themselves seeking abortions very late in the pregnancy — and how laws like Nebraska’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks will be devastating to so many.

Clarence Thomas’s wife has the cruel audacity to ask Anita Hill to apologize for all the pain she caused the Thomases. Ms. Hill demurs. By the way, a mid-Michigan group called Second Opinion sang “The Ballad of Anita Hill” (which may have been their song or a cover, I’m not sure) with a fiery passion. It included the lyrics “It wasn’t that she didn’t feel pressure. It wasn’t that she didn’t feel spite. It wasn’t that she stood to gain a damn thing, she just did what she knew was right.”

This week a woman was mobbed by Tea Partiers at a Rand Paul rally, and one of them stomped on her head — and Paul didn’t even condemn them. The Awl notes also the completely nonsensical position the Tea Partiers are taking; Lauren Valle doesn’t want big corporations running the government (or, you know, funding the supposedly grassroots Tea Party) but even though that seems to be exactly in line with the Tea Party’s half-baked positions, they hate her and she deserves to be stomped on.

And of course the latest, which is a story from NPR on just how intricately for-profit prison companies work with legislators and lobbyists to pass things like SB 1070. Guess who wins in this bleak situation? (Past posts on this topic here, here, and here.)

The Silly

This is a funny little flowchart on explaining the Internet to a street urchin in 19th century London. Hint: You often end up stabbed.

Goodbye, “Wild Beasts and Dangerous Lunatics.” Hello, “Stowaway.”

Dearest fellow travelers! It’s time for a change in these here parts. Nothing too upsetting, I hope. But it’s time for a bit of rebranding, both political and aesthetic — a new name.


I chose the name for this blog on a whim, picking a phrase uttered by a funny character in a beloved book (Talking to Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede). I was certain no one else would choose “Wild Beasts and Dangerous Lunatics” as a moniker, and more importantly, it met my strict requirement of not being sentimental or cutesy. It’s served its purpose quite well for the past several months.

But then I read this post on Feministe about how damaging it is to casually use “crazy” or “insane” or the like, and I decided it was no longer a good name. (Go ahead, read it, it’s real short and real good.)

Actually, I read that article once, said, “good grief, stop being so sensitive,” and carried on with my life. I figured, what’s wrong with saying those words? Everyone says it and no one means anything by it. You say “he’s insane” when the cute bartender doesn’t want to date your friend; you don’t mean that he is literally chemically unbalanced. It’s just an expression. If you start policing all your expressions, soon enough you’ll have none left. You can’t censor yourself into a box just because someone, somewhere — not even the person you’re talking to! — might be offended by it. This is a free country, for crying out loud.

Wait. Hold up. JUMP BACK. That sounds like… dear lord, I was sounding like people who tell me to shut up already about using “fag” or “slut” or any number of epithets. When you’re making that many excuses to simply not use a word that others find horribly upsetting, it’s time to take a closer look. What was going on here?

When I talk with people about calling some inanimate object “gay,” or making cracks about women being gossips/shoehounds/overly emotional, etc., I talk about the long-lasting harm done. You’ve probably noticed that gay people can’t get married in this country, and women get paid less than men for doing the same work, to use two examples out of a lot of possible examples. That’s not unrelated to the way we talk about gay people and women; it’s actually intrinsically linked. All of these little comments are part of a larger understanding that gays and women are less than. Of course we protest that we don’t believe that, we believe in equality; and of course we do, consciously. But subconsciously we see it as a known fact that gay men are effeminate, and that’s laughable, because who wants to less like a man and more like a woman? Gay men are lacking, our collective subconscious says, so our collective subconscious finds ways to treat them as less than. (We’re not talking about bigots and outright hostility here, because that’s a whole other thing.)

So even though you’re not talking to a gay person when you call your friend a fag, you’re making it okay to say that, to use people’s identity as an insult. This contributes to a culture that sees that particular identity as an insult and treats it as such, with legal, psychic, and all too often, physical punishment. (While we’re at it, using someone’s identity as an insult is the lazy way out, and it’s much more satisfying to pick on someone’s Backstreet Boys fandom or tendency to put their foot in their mouth anyway.)

What that is all leading to is this: I don’t understand how it feels to have a mental disorder and hear people casually talk about “lunatics,” but I bet it feels shitty. What’s more, someone’s written a piece telling me just how shitty it feels. In general, I don’t want to make people shitty, so I’m going to stop doing that. It might just be a quote from a YA book, but it says specifically “dangerous lunatics.” There’s plenty of cultural understanding of mentally disordered people as dangerous, unstable, volatile, literally “out of their minds,” rather than as human beings dealing with one more layer of living than non-disordered people live with. Stereotypes of “dangerous lunatics” just make it easier to stigmatize people, dehumanize them, shut them away in institutions and forget about them. I didn’t mean anything by it, but that doesn’t matter. Once you know the damage, fix it. For any readers I’ve upset with the title of my blog, I apologize.

I’ve basically tried to make the same points here that Cara’s Feministe post made, although hers is more succinct and coherent, so I strongly recommend you read it. She says at the end that you can continue using phrases you know others find harmful, but be aware that you’re choosing to cause others harm. If that’s a choice you can live with, carry on, but if it’s not, cut it out. Also, each and every one of the links in her post is worth reading, especially this and this.


Once I knew I had to change the name, I had some trouble coming up with a non-“journey,” non-“life traveler” type name. But inspiration was right under my nose — the quote on the blog’s masthead, from the poet Roselle Mercier Montgomery. “Never a ship sails out of bay but carries my heart as a stowaway.”

Stowaway. It’s about travel, but with a sense of real adventure to it. Sneaking away from the life plan of career, domesticity, etc. Smuggling rough-edged politics into the stately ships of traditional travelogues. Finding the unknown corners of the usual modes of travel, approaching it from another angle. A stowaway is so eager to go someplace that they do whatever they can to get there. A stowaway doesn’t just yearn, she acts. I take that as inspiration and mission statement both.

So now I have a name much more in keeping with what I do here and what I hope to do all around the world. Join me!