Say it Louder Even progressives don’t understand Anti-Asian racism
Chris Punongbayan is a lawyer and executive director of ChangeLawyers.
I was so excited to be starting my first year in college. I remember walking into the university bookstore to buy what I needed for my classes. I walked up to the cashier, laid out my items, and saw the total on the register add up and up and up. I had never spent so much money on books before.
As I was getting rung up, the cashier and I started some casual small talk. I said that I was from one hour away in Massachusetts. I shared how nervous I was to be beginning classes in just a few days. Midway through our conversation, the cashier, a white woman, paused and cheerfully proclaimed, “You have no accent at all! How long have you been here?”
I said, “What do you mean?”
“How long have you been in the United States?”
I replied, “Oh, I was born here.”
“Really? That makes sense now. I was wondering why you speak English so clearly.”
With no hesitation, I enthusiastically responded, “Thanks!” The cashier finished packing my bags. I walked out the front door.
At the time, I didn’t exactly know what to make about her comment. Muddling my way through discomfort and surprise, I took her remarks as compliments. She probably meant them as compliments too, as though speaking with a non-white ethnic accent were a speech impediment.
Looking back, I now understand that my response was borne out of an instinct to minimize my racial difference. It was probably a survival tactic.
Read the story on Medium
More of This Here’s the what you might not know about gender-affirming care for Trans youth
Alexander Chen is a lawyer and the founder of the LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic at Harvard Law. He was the first openly transgender editor of the Harvard Law Review.
“Where are your gym clothes?”
“I lost them.”
“Again?” my mom said, exasperated. I knew it would be frustrating for her, replacing my gym clothes for the third time that year as a single mom. I hadn’t really lost my gym clothes, though. I knew exactly where they were—wedged behind the tall bush at the back of the school property, where I’d lobbed them right before PE class. The last two sets had been “lost” in similar fashion—tucked under a stairwell, secreted behind a tree—each time so I wouldn’t have to go to PE that day.
The reason I dreaded going to PE was that, although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was a transgender boy. All I knew was I hated the changes that were happening to my body during puberty. I hated that we had to change in the locker rooms. I hated having to wear the gym clothes because they were more revealing than the bulky clothes I wore to school every day. And I hated the gender-segregated teams and activities, where I was forced to play “girls” sports rather than “boys” sports. The thing was, aside from the gender dysphoria, I really liked PE. I liked running and hiking. I was an excellent third baseman. I enjoyed developing teamwork and camaraderie with my friends. But the gender-related anxiety would build and build, culminating in these moments of blind panic where I would chuck my gym clothes into a bush right before class.
Afterward, confused and embarrassed, I couldn’t bring myself to return to these sites of shame, so that the landscape of my school ended up dotted with these little no-go zones, a topographic record of the inner pain of one defeated trans kid at the turn of the century who had no idea that transgender people existed and no way of understanding why he felt the way he did. And each time, I knew I would have to trudge my way home after school to lie to my single mother’s face about why she would have to scrape up the money to replace my gym clothes. Again.
Read the story on Slate
More of This Too Secretary Haaland launches new unit to investigate murdered Indigenous people
As promised, Deb Haaland is making missing and murdered Indigenous women a priority in her first weeks as secretary of the Interior. On Thursday, Haaland — the first Native American official ever appointed to a government agency that oversees tribal lands — announced a new unit in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, dedicated to probing previously overlooked disappearances and deaths of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
“Violence against Indigenous peoples is a crisis that has been underfunded for decades,” the Interior secretary said in a statement. “Far too often, murders and missing persons cases in Indian country go unsolved and unaddressed, leaving families and communities devastated. The new MMU [Missing & Murdered Unit] will provide the resources and leadership to prioritize these cases and coordinate resources to hold people accountable, keep our communities safe, and provide closure for families.”
In Congress, Haaland — who is a member of New Mexico’s Laguna Pueblo tribe — was instrumental in passing legislation obligating the federal government to more closely track and investigate missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. When she was confirmed as Interior secretary in mid-March, she pledged to keep working on an issue government has long neglected. Research funded by the Department of Justice has found that, in some areas, American Indian and Alaska Native women living on tribal lands are murdered at rates more than ten times the national average. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists homicide as the third-leading cause of death for these groups, and according to the Urban Indian Health Institute, of the 5,712 American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls reported missing in 2016, only 116 made it into the Justice Department’s federal missing-persons database.
Read the story on The Cut
Finally Seattle city council gives poor residents the free access to eviction lawyers
Today, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to guarantee all indigent city residents the right to an attorney during eviction proceedings—a move that could drastically help keep people in their homes.
“Every eviction is an act of violence,” Councilmember Kshama Sawant, the bill’s sponsor, said during the meeting today. She added: “Every eviction adds to our community’s suffering.”
While Americans have the Constitutional right to counsel in criminal cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled—in both 1981 and 2011—that Americans do not have the same rights in civil court. This means that, in a significant number of cases around the country, tenants who can neither afford to pay rent nor an attorney often don’t know how to properly exercise their rights or fight against potentially unlawful evictions in court.
“The cases are not simple,” John Pollock, the coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, told The Appeal last month. “The tenant may have paid the rent and the landlord may be saying they didn’t. … If the tenant didn’t pay the rent, they may have defenses as to why they didn’t pay.”
Read the story on The Appeal
April 20 at 12 Noon PST. Free for all >
April 26 at 12 Noon PST. Free for all >
May 12 at 12 Noon PST. Free for all >