Category Archives: Blogging

Weekend Links – April 2nd

As could probably be guessed about someone who writes posts online about books, and effuses regularly on twitter about books and other things (cats! baking! Buffy! etc!), I spend a fair amount of time on the Internet. Through the course of a week I come across interesting articles, and I thought I’d share a few with you, dear readers.

I’m going to share by re-posting something I posted on Facebook earlier this week, as I think it is important:

Disgusted today by a combination of two news stories.

The first is about officers in Ottawa wearing “solidarity” bracelets to show their support of Const. Daniel Montsion, who was charged with manslaughter in the death of Abdirahman Abdi last July. The second is about City of Toronto ONCE AGAIN doing their yearly push to ban funding for Pride. This year their excuse is because police were banned from having an official float (though of course are still welcome to attend). 

Seriously people, both of these simultaneously. Do you see the hypocrisy? They are not allowed an official float in Pride this year because there have been YEARS LONG attempts to resolve issues around police brutality and lack of accountability which have gone nowhere. And now they are showing their lack of respect and care in Ottawa by literally wearing arm bands to support the officer charged in the death of a man of color.

Police have very clearly shown, numerous times, that they are not willing to hold themselves, their organization, or their fellow officers accountable so the LGBTQ* community has to center their own members.

The other thing I’d like to share is an article that came my way from a friend. The Establishment has an article titled Why I’m Done Being a ‘Good’ Mentally Ill Person. It’s a really great take down of respectability politics as it applies to mental illness, and the ways in which existing power structures and privileges play into mental health treatment and care. Highly recommended reading,

That moment will stand out in my mind forever. It was the moment when I realized that as long as we divide mentally ill people up into “good” and “bad” — or with coded language like “high-functioning” and “low-functioning” — we replicate the oppressive hierarchies that harm all of us.

The internalized stigma that compelled me to “perform” sanity was the same stigma that can lead to neglect and abuse in psychiatric settings, and further marginalize the most vulnerable mentally ill people.

And, one from the vault (because it’s always good to revisit good articles):

If you’re curious as to why I’m so into immigration policies lately, here is an article from The Nation from 2011 on Why Immigration is a Feminist Issue.

ALSO a bit more good stuff.

WATCH: There is a documentary called Kedi, by director Ceyda Torun, about street cats in Istanbul and it is actually the best thing ever. If you’re feeling down, try to find a screening of this movie. I guarantee you won’t regret it. I went twice, and the theater was sold out the second time. My local documentary theater (how cool is that right?) keeps extending it’s run because it is so popular! (They’ve now extended it into May and there is a good chance I’ll be going again, let’s be real it makes me so happy and we can always use more happy in our lives.)

What are you reading / watching / listening to this weekend? Share your good stuff with me please! 😀

Organizations of Interest: Policing the Planet – Policing and the Criminal Justice System

Last month I posted my thoughts on Policing the Planet edited by Jordan T Camp and Christina Heatherton. I also posted a list of books on similar topics. At the time of the review, I had also promised a list of organizations working on the topic, but it’s been taking me longer to pull it together. I, unfortunately, didn’t think of this while I was reading but combed through the book for a partial and incomplete list of all of the organizations listed.

Check these organizations, find some in your area, and get involved! All information has been pulled from the organizations’ websites.

  • #thisStopsToday –  #ThisStopsToday convened to respond to the Staten Island grand jury’s expected failure to indict officers in the killing of Eric Garner, and to call for the end of discriminatory “broken windows” policing, characterized by aggressive enforcement of minor quality of life offenses, that led to the killing of Eric and brutality against too many other New Yorkers.
  • #BlackLivesMatter – Black Lives Matter is a chapter-based national organization working for the validity of Black life. We are working to (re)build the Black liberation movement.
  • Dignity and Power Now! – Dignity and Power Now (DPN) is a grassroots organization based in Los Angeles that fights for the dignity and power of incarcerated people, their families, and communities.
  • Ella Baker Center for Human Rights – The Ella Baker Center works locally, statewide, and nationally to end mass incarceration and criminalization. We mobilize everyday people to build power and prosperity in our communities.
  • Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN) – The mission of the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN) is to help people dealing with poverty create & discover opportunities, while serving as a vehicle to ensure we have voice, power & opinion in the decisions that are directly affecting us.
  • Communities United for Police Reform (CPR) – An unprecedented campaign to end discriminatory policing practices in New York, bringing together a movement of community members, lawyers, researchers and activists to work for change. The partners in this campaign come from all 5 boroughs, from all walks of life and represent many of those most unfairly targeted by the NYPD. This groundbreaking campaign is fighting for reforms that will promote community safety while ensuring that the NYPD protects and serves all New Yorkers.
  • Audre Lorde Project – The Audre Lorde Project is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non Conforming People of Color center for community organizing, focusing on the New York City area. Through mobilization, education and capacity-building, we work for community wellness and progressive social and economic justice. Committed to struggling across differences, we seek to responsibly reflect, represent and serve our various communities.
  • Astrea Lesbian Foundation for Justice – The only philanthropic organization working exclusively to advance LGBTQI human rights around the globe. We support brilliant and brave grantee partners in the U.S. and internationally who challenge oppression and seed change. We work for racial, economic, social, and gender justice, because we all deserve to live our lives freely, without fear, and with dignity.
  • The Red Nation – The Red Nation is dedicated to the liberation of Native peoples from capitalism and colonialism. We center Native political agendas and struggles through direct action, advocacy, mobilization, and education.
  • We Charge Genocide – We Charge Genocide is a grassroots, inter-generational effort to center the voices and experiences of the young people most targeted by police violence in Chicago.
  • Lesbian Herstory Archives – The Lesbian Herstory Archives exists to gather and preserve records of Lesbian lives and activities so that future generations will have ready access to materials relevant to their lives. The process of gathering this material will uncover and collect our herstory denied to us previously by patriarchal historians in the interests of the culture which they serve. We will be able to analyze and reevaluate the Lesbian experience; we also hope the existence of the Archives will encourage Lesbians to record their experiences in order to formulate our living herstory.
  • Stop LAPD Spying Coalition – The STOP LAPD SPYING COALITION – Campaign to Rescind Special Order 1(1) is an alliance of different organizations (and, in our case, individuals), each with their own interests, mission and vision, that come together to collaborate and take collective action together toward a common goal(s). We reject all forms of police oppression and any policy that make us all suspects in the eyes of the State. Our vision is the dismantling of government-sanctioned spying and intelligence gathering, in all its multiple forms.
  • National Network for Immigration and Refugee Rights – The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) works to defend and expand the rights of all immigrants and refugees, regardless of immigration status.
  • Political Research Associates – Political Research Associates is a social justice think tank devoted to supporting movements that are building a more just and inclusive democratic society. We expose movements, institutions, and ideologies that undermine human rights.
  • Youth Justice Coalition – The Youth Justice Coalition (YJC) is working to build a youth, family, and formerly and currently incarcerated people’s movement to challenge America’s addiction to incarceration and race, gender and class discrimination in Los Angeles County’s, California’s and the nation’s juvenile and criminal injustice systems. The YJC’s goal is to dismantle policies and institutions that have ensured the massive lock-up of people of color, widespread law enforcement violence and corruption, consistent violation of youth and communities’ Constitutional and human rights, the construction of a vicious school-to-jail track, and the build-up of the world’s largest network of jails and prisons.
  • California Prison Moratorium Project – The California Prison Moratorium Project seeks to stop all public and private prison construction in California.
  • Homies Unidos – Homies Unidos works to end violence and promote peace in our communities by empowering youth and their families to become advocates for social justice rather than agents of self-destruction. It is based in LA.
  • Immigrant Defense Project – The Immigrant Defense Project works to secure fairness and justice for immigrants in the United States.
  • Critical Resistance – Critical Resistance seeks to build an international movement to end the prison industrial complex (PIC) by challenging the belief that caging and controlling people makes us safe. We believe that basic necessities such as food, shelter, and freedom are what really make our communities secure. As such, our work is part of global struggles against inequality and powerlessness. The success of the movement requires that it reflect communities most affected by the PIC.
  • StoryTelling & Organizing Project – The StoryTelling & Organizing Project (STOP) is a community project collecting and sharing stories about everyday people taking action to end interpersonal violence.

Check out this link for a list of Canadian organizations. As well, check out:

  • End Immigration Detention Network – The End Immigration Detention Network (EIDN) is a coalition of No One Is Illegal – Toronto, Fuerza Puwersa, End Immigration Detention Network Peterborough and Vancouver and No One Is Illegal – Ottawa. We believe that the only fair immigration system is one without deportations and detentions, and call for full immigration status for all migrants. The Campaign to End Indefinite Detentions is our interim campaign.
  • No One Is Illegal – Toronto – No One Is Illegal (Toronto) is a group of immigrants, refugees and allies who fight for the rights of all migrants to live with dignity and respect. We believe that granting citizenship to a privileged few is a part of racist immigration and border policies designed to exploit and marginalize migrants. We work to oppose these policies, as well as the international economic policies that create the conditions of poverty and war that force migration. At the same time, it is part of our ongoing work to support and build alliances with Indigenous peoples in their fight against colonialism, displacement and the ongoing occupation of their land.
  • Black Lives Matter Toronto – To forge critical connections and to work in solidarity with black communities, black-centric networks, solidarity movements, and allies in order to to dismantle all forms of state-sanctioned oppression, violence, and brutality committed against African, Caribbean, and Black cis, queer, trans, and disabled populations in Toronto.
  • End the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) – A prison abolition group based in Kingston, Ontario.
  • Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies – CAEFS is an association of self-governing, community-based Elizabeth Fry Societies that work with and for women and girls in the justice system, particularly those who are, or may be, criminalized.

Do you have other organizations in your own communities that you would recommend?

Weekend Links

As could probably be guessed about someone who writes posts online about books, and effuses regularly on twitter about books and other things (cats! baking! Buffy! etc!), I spend a fair amount of time on the Internet. Through the course of a week I come across interesting articles, and I thought I’d share a few with you, dear readers.

(Alternatively, I could just be sharing for myself so that I can find them back some day if no one else is reading. HAH!)

Do you ever feel a bit discouraged about what is going on in the world and what you can do to resist? Enter Do A Thing by Shannon & Jane, a daily letter to your inbox which lists one action you could take for the day. They range from calling your representative about a specific issue, starting a daily thought journal, donating to a specific cause, and so on. I originally heard about this from Rebecca, and despite being US focused, I still find it interesting and helpful.

One article that was referenced in Do A Thing is this handy article called How To Be A Good Online Friend by Rose Eveleth on The Last Word on Nothing. It gives great advice for how to respond when a friend is dealing with online harassment. It covers some of the worst of what not to say, as well as ideas for how to help. Always useful when being feminist / female / any marginalized identity on the internet.

It’s always sad when a fave does or says something especially problematic. I’ve been a long time fan of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and have loved all of her books (especially Purple Hibiscus). Her recent transphobic comments, and subsequent clarification that just dug herself in deeper, were disappointing. Bitch has a great article by Aqdas Aftab on Adichie’s comments, her recent work, and racism, transhopbia, and colonialism in feminism. Aqdas says we should “allow these fraught histories to complicate our readings of our favorite books, to suspend our monumentalization of feminist figures, and to disrupt the binaries that limit our evolving feminism”

And, one from the vault (because it’s always good to revisit good articles):

The Guardian had an interesting post just over two years ago by Mawuna Remarque Koutonin on how the term expat is used exclusively for white people, while everyone else is called an immigrant or migrant. It’s an interesting examination of language and privilege, and especially timely considering my current reading project on borders, immigration policies, and refuge.

ALSO a bit more good stuff.

WATCH: The Skin We’re In, a documentary on anti-black racism in Canada by Charles Officer, following Desmond Cole. It’s 45 minutes and incredibly important – take the time to watch it. (I think the video is only watchable in Canada, but it is also on YouTube!) Below is the trailer:

LISTEN: This week I heard about Lizzo, who is a Minneapolis based artist. Worship is my new fave, but Bitch linked a video to her whole SXSW set through NPR. Her set is amazingly body-positive and sexy and just everything.

What are you reading / watching / listening to this weekend? Share your good stuff with me please! 😀

amckiereads

March 22, 2017

It’s hard to believe that Amy Reads has been up, in some form or another, for over 8(!!) years. While for the last number of years I’ve been mostly offline and fairly inactive, in the past couple of months I’ve started to jump back in. I have been nervous to post about returning because I’m scared I will jinx myself and go back to being mostly offline… but here goes.

Early this year I switched jobs. I went from one that had a heavy expectation of (unpaid) overtime and with very frequent travel (which often included weekends) to one with a much stronger belief in a healthy work/life balance. I am also no longer travelling (although there will likely be occasional travel, it should be Mon-Fri instead of Sun-Fri or Sun-Sat). All of this means I am less stressed and have more time.

I don’t know if I’ve always been anxious or if it’s newer to the last few years, but I do know that I usually do not want to leave my house. Too much social activity leaves me with a strong need for a lot of down time to recharge. Online never felt social in the same way that real-life did, but somehow a couple of years ago it became that kind of social, making it harder for me to participate – whether it be twitter, responding to emails, blogging, commenting, or etc. HOWEVER, new job and having less stress and more time has significantly lessened this. And the more I return to twitter and bookish conversations and discussion groups, the more I realize just how much I’ve been missing. The more I’m participating, the less anxious and depressed I’m feeling overall.

I didn’t realize quite how much my previous job was affecting my mental health until I left. And now, looking back, it’s a little bit horrifying…

In addition to having more time and less stress, I am also feeling much more of a need to participate in life online, due to current events. There is so much that is terrible in the news, and reading and voicing criticism and pushing back seems more relevant than ever. Seeing others resisting and learning and sharing makes the world seem a more hopeful place. Reading and writing are political acts – every book is written from a specific worldview, and even if an author claims to be apolitical, that in itself is a political message. Now, more than ever, it is important to see this being acknowledged and discussed, and I feel a need to be a part of this.

What does this mean? I doubt I’ll blog about all that I read, but I do know that I want to talk about important (to me) books. I want to do more personal projects. I want to have conversations and get feedback. I may also talk about the genre reading that’s gotten me through busier and more stressful years. I am a huge documentary nerd, I may write about some of them on here too. Basically, I have no real plan, I’m just taking it a day at a time and seeing where I feel like taking this site.

I’m also participating in Bina’s Diverse Study Group. I’ve requested to join the Social Justice Book Club. I subscribed to Noir Reads, which also has a book discussion forum. Any other recommendations for me?

Many, many, many thanks especially to some of my favorite people online who are helping me get back into bookish conversations: Cass, Ana, Iris, BinaJenny, Renay, Memory, Rhiannon, and so many others.

The First Hundred Reads of 2017

Over the weekend I read my hundredth book of 2017. I am pretty excited about the achievement, so I thought I’d share some stats and favorites! Also, I thought I was doing great at keeping my fiction/non-fiction split close to 50/50, but a closer look tells me that that is a lie, so I need to post this sad fact which will hopefully shame / force myself to do better!

I split my reads into two tabs in my Google Sheets tracking document this year, because combining comics messes up my stats. So comics and graphic novels have been split out into their own section here as well. Doing this makes me feel better about my book reading – my comics are still sadly more white and male.

First, the book books, of which there were 75:  Fiction: 41 / Non-Fiction: 27 / YA Fiction: 7

Some fun stats:

  • Writer of Color: 39 (52%) (African-American – 24 / South-Asian – 4 / Latinx – 5 / Asian – 4 / anthology ft various – 2)
  • International: 4 (5%) (Iranian, South Korean, Spanish, Chilean)
  • Translated: 3 (4%) (South Korean, Spanish, Chilean)
  • LGBTQ author: 12 (16%)
  • Female author: 61 (81%) (male+female gives another 4 or 5%)
  • TBR: 16 (21%)
  • Romance: 8 / Urban Fantasy: 13
  • Novellas (under 150 pages): 12 / Chunksters (over 450 pages): 6

And for the comics and graphic novels, of which there were 25: Comics: 19 / Graphic Novels: 7

Some fun stats:

  • Non-Fiction: 2 (8%)
  • Writer of Color: 10 (40%)
  • LGBTQ author: 1 (4%)
  • Female author: 8 (32%) (male+female gives another 7 or 28%)
  • Rereads: 9 (36%) (I’ve been re-reading series as I catch up)
  • TBR: 9 (36%) (I had been ignoring comic reading last year, although still buying the trades)

I’m doing pretty decently (with very little actual effort) at reading female authors and authors of color. I need to do much better in terms of international and LGBTQ authors, and I would like to read more translated works as well. Number one priority though is definitely to read more non-fiction.

I am almost done re-reading and catching up on my comic series, so I can’t see that section remaining as such a high percentage of my overall reading. What I do have remaining has more women and creators of color though which is good. My comic reading is… not so diverse 😛

Top 5 favorites:

  • Sushine by Robin McKinley (fantasy) <— seriously I had to return the library copy so bought my own copy and have already started re-reading it
  • Difficult Women by Roxane Gay (short stories) <— plus I GOT TO MEET HER and she’s even more amazing in person
  • Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter edited by Jordan T Camp and Christina Heatherton (anthology) <— shouldn’t be a surprise if you look through my post history
  • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson (novel) <— swoons, so good
  • Paper Girls by Brian K Vaughan (comic) <— see even my fave comic is by a white dude, how disappointing for my reading diversity

*The page above, 2017 Reads, has the full list of all my reads of the year.

Library Loot – Help Needed!

Library Loot BadgeLibrary Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Fellow readers, I need help. I should really stop pretending this isn’t a usual occurrence… but I have once again mismanaged my Library holds and so have all the books at once. And by all the books… I mean 23. I am definitely not going to be able to read them all so please tell me which I definitely can’t miss!

LibraryLoot 20170205

  • The Strays by Emily Bitto
  • Nostalgia by M. G. Vassanji
  • The Feminist Bookstore Movement: Lesbian Antiracism and Feminist Accountability (I started this one and it is incredible, but also dense. If I don’t finish it I will definitely re-request or buy it.)
  • Wise Children by Angela Carter
  • At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance – A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power by Danielle L. McGuire (Recommended by Cass, this one is a definite must read.)
  • Island of the Mad by Laurie Sheck
  • The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky
  • It’s OK to Laugh (Crying is Cool, Too) by Nora McInerny Purmort
  • Harmless Like You by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
  • Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines edited by Alexis Pauline Gumbs, China Martens, and Mai’a Williams (Read a really great review of this one.)
  • The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andrés Reséndez
  • Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett
  • Women in the Qur’an: An Emancipatory Reading by Asma Lamrabet
  • Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips (Sounds interesting, but not own voices… is it worth the read?)
  • Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man’s Education by Mychal Denzel Smith (This is a definite must read, I’ve seen too many great reviews to miss it.)
  • What We Do Now: Standing Up for Your Values in Trump’s America edited by Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians (I finished this one yesterday.)
  • Culture as Weapon: Art and Marketing in the Age of Total Communication by Nato Thompson
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance (I’ve heard conflicting things about this one, indicating it could be much better and isn’t as fantastic as I want – and that it could be frustratingly limited.)
  • The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang
  • Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture – And What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding
  • The Women Who Read Too Much by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani (Recommended by Cass so I’ll definitely read this one.)
  • White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg (I’ve heard this is terrible and so I intend to return it unread unless convinced otherwise.)
  • The Muslims are Coming: Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror by Arun Kundnani  (I’m currently reading this one. Even though I picked it up most recently so I have it for the longest…)

So, what do you think? Any that are a definite must read or a definite skip? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Related Reading: Policing the Planet – Policing and the Criminal Justice System

Earlier this week I posted my thoughts on Policing the Planet edited by Jordan T Camp and Christina Heatherton. Are you looking for more books on similar topics? Check out these other great titles (links lead to old reviews):

Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen by David Hilfiker – An examination of how economics, policies, and racism created and shaped inner city ghettos. (FIVE STARS)

It is also true, however, that we tend to punish the kinds of crimes committed by the poor more severely than similar ones committed by affluent people. Compare, for example, shoplifting and “fudging” on an expense account. Each is a nonviolent crime against business. Since neither source of income is usually reported to the Internal Revenue Service, each is a federal crime. Yet the shoplifter is much more likely to be prosecuted than the executive manipulating his expense account.

Rape New York by Jana Leo – Leo examines development policies and crime especially as it intersects with her own rape. (FIVE STARS)

Introducing crime into an area is part of a crude development strategy. The more sophisticated and perverse approach is to simultaneously clamp down on street crime while forcing it into specific buildings targeted for speculation. Containing crime in specific buildings reduces their value so developers can purchase them inexpensively.

Unruly Women: The Politics of Confinement and Resistance by Karlene Faith – A look at women in the justice system (in Canada!) and the ways in which the justice system is but the latest in a long line of efforts which have been used to keep women in their places. (FIVE STARS)

The continuum, then, does not follow deterministically from victimization to criminalization. Rather, social victims en masse serve as the very large pool from which the anomalous woman, who sells sex, steals or hurts people and gets caught, is a candidate for prosecution. These unruly masses are the target of criminal justice as well as the target of other dominant regulatory institutions in bureaucratized societies. The continuum from victimization to criminalization is arbitrarily drawn according to power relations as constructed through racially divided and class-based social structures, in tandem with the authority of law and other dominant discourses such as medicine, social sciences and welfare, which all serve selective law enforcement practices.

Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis – One of (if not the) first book I read on the US prison industrial complex. Davis discusses the history of prisons in the US as well as the criminalization of groups and communities which has led to the current state. She ends by providing options and alternatives. (More on Angela Davis coming in a post at some point in the near future.)

Thus, if we are willing to take seriously the consequences of a racist and class-biased justice system, we will reach the conclusion that enormous numbers of people are in prison simply because they are, for example, black, Chicano, Vietnamese, Native American or poor, regardless of their ethnic background. They are sent to prison, not so much because of the crimes they may have indeed committed, but largely because their communities have been criminalized. Thus, programs for decriminalization will not only have to address specific activities that have been criminalized – such as drug use and sex work – but also criminalized populations and communities.

More great reads that I haven’t reviewed but which provide more context and history on policing or the justice system:

  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander – a history of racial injustices and how they are a continuation of Jim Crow systems of justice. (FIVE STARS)
  • The Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces by Radley Balko – a history of how we got to the current state of the militarized police force and the results of this on how they interact with those they are supposed to protect and serve.
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson – memoir by a lawyer who works with the wrongfully convicted, children, domestic abuse survivors, and others. It discusses the injustices built into the justice system.
  • Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice by Adam Benforado – Benforado is fully on the reform bandwagon, but in this book he does a great job of examining many issues (biases and injustices) built in to the current justice system.
  • Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted by Ian Millhiser – an examination of the Supreme Court since the Civil War that shows how the rulings go more often against justice, despite a few recent historic rulings.
  • Racial Reckoning: Prosecuting America’s Civil Rights Murders by Renee C. Romano – while this book isn’t as related, it is still interesting and I make the case that it provides a great lens through which to view the police and the justice system. Through examinations of the more recent prosecutions of civil rights atrocities we see the limitations of the justice system.

Have you read any great books on policing or the justice system that my list is missing? Please let me know so that I can search them out!

Thoughts on Policing the Planet Edited By Jordan T. Camp and Christina Heatherton

Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter is a collection of 22 incredibly intersectional and deeply researched essays on policing in the US and internationally. The collection is edited by Jordan T. Camp and Christina Heatherton and contains a poem as well as numerous essays by and interviews with activists and scholars.

I don’t know where I first heard about this book, but it’s been on my wishlist since around the time that it was published last year. Mid-January my boyfriend gifted it to me, because clearly I picked an amazing partner. Now all I want to do is push it on everyone – seriously, it’s that good.

Cover image for Policing the Planet

How policing became the major political issue of our time

Combining firsthand accounts from activists with the research of scholars and reflections from artists, Policing the Planet traces the global spread of the broken-windows policing strategy, first established in New York City under Police Commissioner William Bratton. It’s a doctrine that has vastly broadened police power the world over—to deadly effect.

With contributions from #BlackLivesMatter cofounder Patrisse Cullors, Ferguson activist and Law Professor Justin Hansford, Director of New York–based Communities United for Police Reform Joo-Hyun Kang, poet Martín Espada, and journalist Anjali Kamat, as well as articles from leading scholars Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Robin D. G. Kelley, Naomi Murakawa, Vijay Prashad, and more, Policing the Planet describes ongoing struggles from New York to Baltimore to Los Angeles, London, San Juan, San Salvador, and beyond.

Broken Windows Policing, also sometimes called Community Policing, is the idea that by cracking down hard on small crimes such as littering, graffiti, loitering, public drunkenness, and et cetera with a zero tolerance policy people will be dissuaded committing major crimes. In other words, by showing that the police care about and enforce all rules punitively, it will theoretically scare people away from the idea of larger or more violent crimes. It was developed originally in 1982 in The Atlantic Monthly by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, and has been embraced hugely since then.

The problems with this theory are legion, but a key point raised throughout the book is this – who defines community? Because certain people get identified as being “outside” of the community (the homeless, the racialized poor people, LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming people, Native people, immigrants, drug users) it is considered acceptable if they are harmed by the police in order to maintain “order” and “safety” for those considered within the community. This harm can come through increased stops, increased fines and arrests, and increases in prison populations. All of these harms then appear on a person’s record which leads to further cascading harm as they are shut out of what remains of the social net, in many cases. The policy can lead to “cleanup” of neighborhoods, increasing property value and enabling further gentrification in neighborhoods people have lived in for years.

A second main problem, raised again and again, which is tied to the first, is the way that the policy targets and disorders individuals and behavior as opposed to issues and crimes. For example, the homeless are arrested and / or fined and /or removed from the area, but there is no action taken against slum landlords who aren’t maintaining their properties. And no action on actual broken windows on bank owned foreclosed homes. As another example, people of color are routinely stopped and frisked in certain neighborhoods because they are seen as not belonging but there is no action against discriminatory hiring practices and stealing of tips.

Abolition of policing is provided by many as the true solution to the problems. Many essays discuss the history of policing and about its beginning in the days of slave patrols and its continued use throughout history to maintain separation and penalize difference. While some activists point to short term solutions, it is important to look intersectionally at all facets of the situation to ensure that existing structures and issues aren’t maintained. Although broken windows policing originated in the United States, it has been exported around the world as some of the essays discuss. The issue is a global one and many organizations are working together for justice.

An example of the definition of community and of how activism can sometimes provide limited gains while leaving the underlying structures in place is given in Christina B. Hanhardt‘s essay “Broken Windows at Blue’s: Queer History of Gentrification and Policing“. In the essay she talks about the rise of broken windows policing in New York City and the concurrent rise in the acceptability of white gay identity due to investment in gentrifying neighborhoods. The white gay middle class investment in the city was seen as part of the “back-to-the-city” movement and this group started to be seen as increasingly different from poor, immigrant, and non-white gay individuals, as well as from trans or gender non-conforming individuals. They thus because part of the accepted “community” while the underlying structure and problems were left unchanged.

She states:

[…] mainstream gay political claims in the city emerged by expanding the distance – conceptual and spatial – between affirmative gay identity and the broad matrix of so-called deviances often associated with racialized poverty.

They thus because part of the accepted “community” while the underlying structure and problems were left unchanged. As we move forward with advocacy, this is what reform efforts can often lead to and is why we have to think critically about any reforms being proposed.

As Rachel Herzing says in “The Magical Life of Broken Windows“:

We need terms of engagement that don’t root our own survival in the suppression or denial of another’s humanity.

In the coming days I will put up a few related posts on related reading, organizations working on the topic, and other media.

Readathon – April 23

Another readathon is here!! Life sure is good, here on the blog. Life just seems to go from readathon to readathon, as if that’s all there is. I have been reading all kinds of great books in between, I just haven’t been posting any reviews or details here. These days, my only social media presence is Instagram. If you want to see what I’m up to and what I’m reading, that’s the best place to go!

I’m home, and I’ve gathered my potentials for #Readathon! #readathonstack who else is excited for tomorrow??

A photo posted by Amy McKie (@amckiereads) on

Opening Meme, 8am EST

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? I am in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I made a pile of books, though I don’t always tend to stick to my pile. I’ve tried to chose a varied list of non-fiction, fiction, and young-adult, as well as a couple of romance (which is a new thing I’ve been reading lately!). I’m quite excited for everything in the stack today!
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I haven’t planned them out in too much detail, but I did pick up some ginger lemon cream cookies, which I’m very excited about.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I’m a project manager with an IT company, and am spending every second week or so in New Orleans this year – any tips for me while I’m there?
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I have to admit that I am shamefully nervous about this year – I’ve LOVED cheering in the past couple of readathons, but this year all of the cheering is on Twitter. I’m hardly on Twitter anymore, and have no idea how to cheer nearly as well there! Silly, right? I shouldn’t be so sad about missing cheering on blogs when I can’t even be bothered to update mine all year long! 😉

Happy reading everyone!

 

Readathon – October 2015

Hello dear readers! It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since I last posted. Then again, when I think back on the past year, I find it hard to believe that October is here again. The past year has been ridiculously busy at work, and I’ve not really done a lot else. I am working on changing that, however, and getting back to more normal hours.

I had so much fun last year with the reading and cheering, and so when I found that I was free (semi-free, I am on-call all weekend, boo) I knew that I wanted to participate again!

Readathon Oct 2015 Reading Stack

Readathon Oct 2015 Reading Stack

Opening Meme, 8am EST

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? I am in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is chilly today with a current temperature of 1* Celsius (34* Fahrenheit) and SNOW possible for later today. I am not a fan of this, and hope to spend most of the day curled up with my electric blanket!
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I have a pile of comic trades, as well as a few library books to read. I’ve also added in a few fiction books from my tbr shelves. I am quite excited for all of them, and may or may not even stick to the pile. I find certain books can spark a desire for other topics or types of books, and I love following that trail.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? I haven’t planned them out in too much detail, but I do have some leftover dahl from my boyfriend’s parents that I’m looking forward to for lunch!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! Hmm… almost-thirty reader, who works too much. Lover of cats, travel, tea, and wine.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I think I’ll spend the day the same way as last year! Lots of cheering, lots of reading, a trip to the library (which is about a 5 minute walk from my apartment), and hopefully I’ll manage to stay up later this year!

Update hour 2: 9:30am

I’m cheering with Team Dogwood this readathon, and completed my first round of visits to each of the blogs. I’ve also participated in the Cover Escape mini-challenge hosted by Unabridged Chick.

If I could escape into any book cover… This would be my pick! Beach > cold. #readathon

A photo posted by Amy McKie (@amckiereads) on

On this cold, fall day, I chose the lovely beach on Paradise, by Abdulrazak Gurnah, which is also a fantastic read. Update hour 3: 10:30am I’ve had some breakfast and tea, finished reading The Wicked + The Divine: Fandemonium, which was as fantastic as I expected it to be. I thought I’d start off the morning with a few of the comic trades I have, and dig into a book in a few hours. This hour also features the Diversity Shelfie mini-challenge, hosted by Pam at An Unconventional Librarian.

Obviously I couldn’t pick just one, but I couldn’t hold more than four at once, so you know. I guess it’ll have to do 🙂 And now all I want to do is reread The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin…

Update hour 6: 1pm

Lunch has been eaten, and I’ve powered through four more comic trades: Rat Queens: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth, Ms. Marvel: Generation Why, Lumberjanes: Friendship to the Max, and Sex Criminals: Two Worlds, One Cop. I have two more comic trades, but I think I’m going to circle back and finish the book I started last night, Assata Shakur’s autobiography, which I was really enjoying. After that, I’ll do another round of cheering.

I hope you’re all enjoying your readathon!

I’ve finished a few comics, now it’s book time. #readathon #amreading #books

A photo posted by Amy McKie (@amckiereads) on

Update hour 8: 3:45pm Phew I can’t believe it is already hour 8 – how did that happen?! I’ve finished Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur, which was really interesting. I’ve also completed another cheer-leading round for Team Dogwood! I really enjoy the cheer-leading and finds it gives a nice break from reading. I love seeing what everyone else is reading. I’m now going to take a short break and wander to my library, and pick up a few more snacks. Because one can never have enough snacks.

Update hour 12: 7:15pm, Mid Event Survey

The library and snack excursion was a nice break, however… it SNOWED while I was out, which was not my favorite at all! I made up for it by buying extra tasty snacks. Since my return, I’ve finished another book: An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah, a collection of short stories set in Zimbabwe.

1. What are you reading right now? I’m about to start Hinges, another comic trade.
2. How many books have you read so far? I’ve finished five comic trades, one non-fiction book (102 pages, the rest I read last night), and one collection of short stories.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? I’m not sure, really. I haven’t decided yet how late I will continue reading, or what I will read after the next two comic trades.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? No surprises yet, except possibly how quick time seems to be flying by!

How about you, are you still awake and reading?

Update hour 16(!): 11:45pm

If you are shocked that I’m still up and reading, don’t worry, I am as well. I just did a third cheering round and am pretty happy about that (44 blogs, each visited 3 times!). I’d like to get a fourth cheering round in, in another 6 hours or so, but I’m not going to make any promises of being awake at that time!

Prior to that, I finished two more comic trades: Hinges (volume 1 of Clockwork City), and Bitch Planet. I also had some supper, and a wonderful bath paired with a book. That book was Do What You Love: And Other Lies About Success and Happiness by Miya Tokumitsu, and which I just finished. Given how work has been going this year, it was a book I was very interested to read!

About to begin my next #readathon book and a bath.

A photo posted by Amy McKie (@amckiereads) on

Update, Post Readathon: 8:15am, Closing Survey

Well. As I had mentioned, I was on-call for work all day yesterday, and I am again today. I saw some emails come through and knew I would have to be up and working at 8am, so I figured at 1am that I better get some sleep.

Which hour was most daunting for you? Well, I had to give up at 1pm and go to sleep, with 7 hours left, so I suppose that one.
Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Comic trades worked really well for me!
Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Nope, it’s always fantastic as it is 🙂
What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? It all worked!
How many books did you read? I read 7 comics and parts of four books – one I had started the day before and finished, two I started and finished, and I started another book but didn’t finish it.
What were the names of the books you read? I read:

  1. The Wicked + The Divine: Fandemonium by Gillen McKelvie and Wilson Cowles – comic, 168 pages
  2. Rat Queens: Thte Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Roc Upchurch, and Stjepan Sejic – comic, 136 pages
  3. Ms. Marvel: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt, and Adrian Alphona – comic, 136 pages
  4. Lumberjanes: Friendship to the Max by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, and Brooke A. Allen – comic, 112 pages
  5. Sex Criminals: Two Worlds, One Cop by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky – comic, 128 pages
  6. Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur – non-fiction, 102 pages read
  7. An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah – short stories, 224 pages
  8. Hinges: Clockwork City Book 1 by Meredith McClaren – comic, 112 pages
  9. Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro – comic, 136 pages
  10. Do What You Love: And Other Lies About Success and Happiness by Miya Tokumitsu – non-fiction, 188 pages
  11. Untwine by Edwidge Danticat – young adult fiction, 100 pages read

Which book did you enjoy most? Hmmm I don’t know if I can answer this, I really enjoyed everything, and it was a varied list of books!
Which did you enjoy least? Hmmm I quite enjoyed everything, but the comic Hinges was a bit harder to follow with very little text, so perhaps itt.
If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? Moat cheering!! I tend to open a few tabs at once and cheer on all off them before going back and updating the spreadsheet, working top to bottom. I also try to go straight through and hit everyone at once, starting reading the next post as my comment is still posting on the last. Efficiency is key 🙂
How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I’m a big fan of reading and of cheering, so I’d stick to the same thing!