The Rookie Gift Guide: General Stores

Wednesday, 26 November 2014 04:00 am
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Posted by Gabby

Next up in Rookie’s holiday gift spec-tac-u-laaaar: Online stores! You may be thinking, WAIT A MINUTE, aren’t all of the presents Rookie recommends technically buyable online? They are! But these are shops of general excellonce. They are the places on the internet that Gabby, Beth, and Estelle (our Online Shopping Experts) recommend you visit posthaste when you’re looking for a gift for the friend/bandmate/distant relative/parent-of-your-boo/etc. who has everything—because there’s a whole lot to like no matter where you look here.

Gabby’s picks

one directionTeam Art makes upscale coloring books, which I didn’t know I wanted until I stumbled upon them on Etsy and decided I needed to own at least three. These super-cute mini coloring books are perfect for the person who appreciates ’90s pop divas, Canadian wildlife, boy bands, or Paul Rudd—and who also likes to color. (Price range: $10–$11)

dessertKawaii Stickers 4 You is a purveyor of novelty stickers, which are honestly among the most practical gifts you can come by. Who doesn’t love stickers? Show someone you love them by giving them a sheet of photorealistic dessert stickers that live up to the name kawaii. (Price range: $2–$17.50)

stay homeStay Home Club is your gift-buying resource for friends who would get incredibly stressed out if you gave them movie tickets, a voucher for a manicure, or anything that would require them to, god forbid, leave the comfort of their house! You don’t even have to be homebody to appreciate quality de-motivational pennants and posters that say things like “Just Stay Home” and “Boring Is Best.” (Price range: $3–$50)

Beth’s picks

copper_patina_planter_main_largeLeif is one of those stores in which EVERYTHING is pretty. Like if you had one of each of their wares in your home, it would probably explode from specialness. You can find something that fits about any budget, including reasonably priced mini-planters and gemstone magnet sets. They also carry unique kitchen stuff, shiny notebooks, calendars, and cards, and original art. (Price range: $4 to really expensive!) is where to find irresistibly cute goodies. As in, why would you buy a plain keychain for a pal when you could get one like this?! You can also purchase adorable iPhone cases, thermal mugs, pen sets, and more. Cute, cute, cute. (Price range: $5–$130)

56642-831d276e03cb4ad5b9cb94b7513a3432Epic Whatever is perfect for die-hard DIYers. They specialize in rad handmade goods, like this embroidered banner and these smiley and frown-y face necklaces (I have one of each). They also stock zines and cool, random objects like this knotted pencil. Why knot do some holiday shopping here? (Price range: $.50–$45)

Estelle’s picks

crystalsStructure Minerals is a CRYSTAL WONDERLAND. This wondrous Etsy store is filled with earthly goods of all sorts, including crystals, cabochons, and fossils. My favorite offerings are the beautiful multi-stone sets, like this one. If your friend is into science or casting spells, this mineral megastore will serve your gifting needs. (Price range: $.75–$180)

penguinDubuDumo is one of my FAVORITE recent Etsy finds. What does your loved one covet from the world of paper goods and desk accessories? Mini photo frames? You got it. Pretty notebooks? They’re here. A glow-in-the-dark moon wall decal? SHUT THE FRONT DOOR. My personal faves are the eeeeeeeeeeeeeek-inducing sticky notes/bookmarks, like this bunch of li’l penguins. (Price range: $1–$98)

lordeArtcessories by Dakota is where you’ll find the weirdest and most fun stocking-stuffers my eyes have ever seen. Thanks to Dakota Davis, you may now bestow upon your bestie such a holiday wonder as these Golden Girls tribute candles. YOU ARE WELCOME. If Dorothy Zbornak ain’t your friend’s thing, never fear! How about a Seinfeld candle set? A Lorde candle to light their way? Ron Swanson, RuPaul, my boyfriend Benedict Cumberbatch: Dakota will take care of you, whoever your personal saint may be. And if you don’t find them here, you can request a custom candle. *Dusts hands off*. My work is done here. (Price range: $16–$115)

Learning to Squint

Wednesday, 26 November 2014 01:00 am
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Posted by Kyle Childress

First Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 64:1-9
Mark 13:24-37

When I was a boy I knew an old rancher whose face was permanently sunburned and lined from decades of living outside. People said he had a “perpetual squint.” Daylight or dark, indoors or out, he always looked like he was squinting, looking across some pasture for a stray cow in the face of glaring sun and blowing wind. Squinting, looking into the distance for so many years had shaped his face; it had shaped the way he looked at everything.

Walker Percy, tells in his novel Love in the Ruins and its sequel novel The Thanatos Syndrome about a small, remnant church out in the woods of Louisiana. They are fragile and exiled from the mainstream, conventional and successful American church. They have a small AIDS clinic where they care for the sick and dying and care for each other.

Their priest, Father Rinaldo Smith, is eccentric and helps pay the bills by hiring out as a fire-watcher. It is his job to climb the fire-tower by night and watch for forest fires below while he also looks “for signs and portents in the skies.” Throughout the two novels he’s always watching, squinting into the distance, looking for portents, looking for something.

Our readings are for the First Sunday of Advent. Advent, which means “coming,” is about the coming of Christ. It is about Christ coming in Bethlehem 2000 years ago but more, Advent is about Christ coming again sometime in the future. At the same time, it is about Christ coming again in renewal in our lives now, and coming into this present status-quo world.

We are called to hold these three tenses of Christ’s coming in mind all the time. The testimony of the church for thousands of years has been, “Christ has come, Christ is come, Christ will come again.” Therefore, we’re to be getting ready, preparing, watching and waiting for the coming. Get the house ready, the master is coming. Get the house ready Christ is coming. Get your life together, Christ is coming. Watch. Squint.

In our reading from Mark Jesus tells us in no uncertain language, “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert, for you do not know when the time will come… Keep awake” (Mark 13: 32-37).

Therefore, the calling of the church is to live on tiptoes, to squint and to watch, to live with the expectation that at any minute now something might happen. We Christians believe that yes, we do live in the end times. But we believe the end has already come in Jesus Christ. Jesus came and ushered in the beginning of the end of this old world. The end has started with him.

Churchill famously said after it became apparent that Great Britain had triumphed over Hitler in what became known as the Battle of Britain, “this is not the end and this is not even the beginning of the end but it is the end of the beginning.” Well, in the coming of Christ, the church realized that this was the beginning of the end. And when we become Christians, we start to live according to this new time in Christ. As the Apostle Paul put it, “the old is passing away, all things are becoming new.” We Christians step into what Paul calls the “new creation.”

At the same time, the end of the old is not yet complete. There is still more to come. We Christians see and live now what we believe will be true for all people in the future so we start living now the Way of the Kingdom of God because we believe that it is already coming to pass and it will continue to come to pass. Here and there it is breaking in around us. We want to watch, be alert and look for it. Who knows when the new creation might break in nearby?

Flannery O’Connor wrote in a letter about her lupus and said, “I can, with one eye squinted, take it all as a blessing.”

You see, our watching and looking, our perpetual squinting is not just about way out there. It’s about right here in your life and in our life together. What new way might Christ come to us? For Flannery O’Connor it was learning to see her lupus in a different way; squinting and seeing the blessing in it along with the pain and suffering.

Learning to squint with one eye, learning to watch and look, means learning to see as God sees, seeing the blessing in the midst of the suffering, seeing the good, noticing the love, being sensitive to the grace of the many small ways God’s Way is breaking in around us while also noticing the portents of death which we resist. It does not mean seeing something that’s not there and trying to make it look good. No, what it means to squint is to watch for what is really there that we’re otherwise blind to. It means looking for Christ, and watching for Christ who might show up at any moment.

So we watch and look and squint until it becomes perpetual. It defines who we are.

Justice Is Possible #Ferguson

Wednesday, 26 November 2014 12:14 am
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Posted by Tony Jones

This is a guest post by Anthony Smith, aka postmodernnegro.

No indictment for Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in his murder of Michael Brown. Not shocked. Definitely not surprised. However, I am sad and angry. To many people this is not understood. But to many in my cohort, this is a part of the cultural furniture of living in the United States of America. We get it. We experience the onslaught of daily indignities that are the crumbs of endemic white supremacy.

As I went to bed Monday night after watching the county prosecutor Robert McCullough announce that there would be no indictment of Officer Wilson a thought came to me: French philosopher and father of deconstructionism Jacques Derrida was right. Justice is a possibility. 

Jacques Derrida

Jacques Derrida

Then I began a thought experiment based upon this thought along with recent conversations I’ve been having in the black community about economic development and political engagement. Suppose Derrida is right? Suppose that justice is a possibility. A phantasm that always eludes our grasp in this society. Maybe, at best, we get crumbs of a semblance of justice every century or so.

But this idea. This idea that justice as a possibility got me to think about the work and legacy of early 20th century black pan-africanist activist and entrepreneur Marcus Garvey. You may have never heard of him. Especially if you never paid attention during black history month. Garvey talked about self-determination in the black community. He was one of the early black nationalists, calling for black folks to create their own economy, political systems, and cultural reality separate from whites. It was a radical move for his day (still is actually).

Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey

But imagine Garvey and Derrida walking into a bar together. They begin to compare notes. I can imagine Garvey telling Derrida how his claim of justice-as-possibility buttresses his claim of the necessity of black political and economic autonomy. Derrida may ask, in a Socratic manner, “Why do you say this?” I can hear Garvey saying, “Because you say justice is a possibility. I’d add to that by saying that in America racial justice will be an eternal possibility.”

This thought stuck to me: suppose racial justice in America will forever be an eternal possibility. Only a possibility. Never to cross over wholly into the event horizon of actuality.

Then I can hear Derrida protesting by saying, “Deconstruction is justice.” We can attain some relative racial justice if we could only deconstruct the entirety of the American system.  In the case of our criminal justice system the issue of mass incarceration, school-to-prison pipelines, communities being policed in a racially disproportionate manner mitigating vast chasms of cultural misunderstandings.

You get the picture. But who wants to begin that project? Especially when you see over and over again the murder of young black men in the media without reprisal by the systems and structures that claim, as their mission, to deliver justice to its citizens.

Before last night I thought there would be no indictment and that we would soldier on, organizing and protesting and calling the Powers into account. But after it was said and done, my soul conjured the thought of the possibility that racial justice in America will forever and eternally be a possibility. A world without end. 

What do you think?

Anthony Smith

Anthony Smith

Anthony Smith blogs at and is engaged in social justice work in Salisbury, NC.

(Maybe) More Than Just Friends

Wednesday, 26 November 2014 12:00 am
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Posted by Monica Heisey

Collage by Beth.

Collage by Beth.

A few days ago you two were “just friends,” but now the air between you feels different. Suddenly, the way you look at your pal is a mirror image of the “cat with hearts for eyes” emoji. When they make a joke, you laugh too loud, then think, Oh shit, they know. You blush when someone brings them up in conversation, and stammer, “SHUT UP, YOU ARE,” when you get called out for blushing. You want to spend all your time with them (with some of that time involving your tongues touching). You’re deep, deep in it: You’ve got a crush on your friend. Oh NO, right?

Not exactly! We all know the supposed hazards of crushing on a bud—awkwardness, bad vibes, and the number-one enemy to fragile hearts (all hearts) everywhere, “ruining the friendship.” We’ll get into this more a little later, but I promise you: This is a bunk theory.

There are probably at least three or four good friends on my Hard Crush list and dozens more on my Soft. (Soft Crush = would hit it, plain and simple, I think this person is a pure babe and want our bodies to be friends; Hard Crush = please pet my hair while we watch a movie and tell your mom you like me; did you know I wrote a song about you, nothing weird you’re just amazing?) Some of them are aware of their status as crushees and some of them aren’t, and, overall, I feel pretty OK. You can have a crush on a buddy—and maybe even tell them about it!—and it does not have to ruin anything. Not your life, not your friendship, not your ability to listen to instrumental guitar music without crying. Walk with me and see!

CRUSHES ARE SUPPOSED TO BE FUN. (No pressure, or anything!)

What is the point of a crush, except to indulge heavily in your Dramatic Gesture fantasy life? To feel tingly in your stomach, your feet, and your everywhere else because they’ve made a joke that is, like, EXACTLY your sense of humor and can you believe this person exists and is close to you right now?! To maybe have a bunch of very intense dreams that you try to work up the courage to tell them about, but mostly just turn your journal into a work of erotic friend fiction? Think about how fun it is to crush on someone completely unattainable, like Rihanna or D’Artagnan, the fictional Musketeer from the Alexandre Dumas novel (I like a large hat on a man, OK)? Isn’t it nice to just bask in another person’s awesomeness?

If your crush is your friend, nothing changes about your appreciation for their greatness—you just have more access to it. Instead of worrying about how your crush will affect you and the friendship in the long run, take some time to enjoy the feeling itself. Go Classic Crush and doodle their name somewhere, or rev it up and write some anonymous Tumblr poems about them. In high school, I wrote dozens of poems dedicated to this one longhair I was into as more than friends. My favorite poem features an extended metaphor about how he and I are both “playing a game” that “everyone loses.” It was both very deep and very intense—an exact (if embarrassing) mirror of my crush. A crush is its own exquisite and terrible joy. Bathe in it.

Your “friend crush” might actually just be a crush-crush.

The most confusing part of realizing you have feelings for a friend is that sometimes that friend is not the gender you’re typically attracted to. This is part of being aware of and open to changes in your mind and mood and kind of sitting back and noting, Oh, there that is. Of course, it’s not always easy to process these changes. It was certainly VERY confusing when I realized that the girl in my English class who I wanted to dress like, be friends with, and potentially coax into revealing all her makeup secrets was not a “friend crush” at all, but a crush-crush. Like a true, real, “You’re amazing, I’m nervous around you, and what if we kissed” crush.

We did kiss, and we stayed friends too. It all went down one wintry night after class, when another friend was like, “Oh my god you guys are flirting so hard right now!” and I realized, Oh, yeah….we are, and my crush and I kind of mutually broke off from the group and ended up making out. I have not wanted to kiss many other women since, but I know now that nothing about myself would change if I met another woman whom I did. We were friends, and then we were kind of more than friends, and then we were friends again—and we’re both still who we were before.

Should you tell them?

Do you want to? If so: Yes. If not: No. Of course, sometimes the answer is, “OBVIOUSLY I DO IT’S KILLING ME INSIDE, but also, no, not really, I’m nervous.” Fair enough. As long as you’re comfortable with not having control over the outcome of your revelation—which you don’t—there is nothing to be lost from sharing your feelings with your friend.

Let’s consider the options: They might be weirded out. They might put some distance between you guys for a bit. They might tell other people about it. They might be into it! They might be VERY into it. So what’s the worst that can happen? Best-case scenario, you have a mutual crush. Worst-case, you feel a bit confused, or sad, or awkward, or your feelings get hurt. But those worst-case scenarios are not life-ruiners. You’ve got a lot else going on! Work stuff, life stuff, What if I had a dog, how often would I Instagram it stuff.

The premise that a friendship can be ruined by someone expressing their honest, true feelings is my least favorite idea in the history of ideas. Who is responsible for this?? (Rom-coms, is it you? Mumblecore, I’m looking at you, and not in a good way.) Wherever it came from, it’s patently ridiculous. It presumes that relationships exist in stasis, like you established a fixed level of closeness one day and now the rest of your interactions must be a carefully guarded dance designed to maintain your agreed level of closeness. Do you really think a person who cares about you is going to drop you completely because you told them you feel strongly about them and they aren’t interested in you “in that way”? Not to be all Everyone’s Mom about this, but what kind of friend is that?

Ask a Grown Woman: Garfunkel and Oates

Tuesday, 25 November 2014 08:00 pm
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Posted by Lena

Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci go by Garfunkel and Oates when they’re writing and performing cute ’n’ comedic duets (our faves include a new social media–centric jam, and this holiday-themed classic). You can listen to whole albums of their music, watch them on TV (Garfunkel and Oates on IFC), see them live in concert, or tune in right here for their tender advice on bodies, boys, and literally leaning in:

Want an unbiased grown person to weigh in on the trials and tribulations of your LIFE? (Whatever works, right?!) Email your questions to with “Ask a Grown” in the subject line, and please include your first name (or your nickname or initials), your city, and your age.

Friend Crush

Tuesday, 25 November 2014 04:00 am
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Posted by Rookie

Illustration by Marjainez.

Illustration by Marjainez.

Jill, 18, and Deja, 19, met at the same high school in the San Francisco Bay Area. They may look like best friends/college students (and they are—Jill’s a freshman at a university in California, and Deja’s a sophomore at one in Washington, D.C.), but in their hearts they are the co-rulers of a post-apocalyptic paradise island. If that sounds like the coolest thing you’ve ever heard: WE AGREE! They told us all about it on the phone last week. Get ready to seriously freak out about these pals.

FROM: Jill
SUBJECT: Friend Crush! <3

Deja and I first bonded in pre-Calc when I was a junior and she was a senior. One day, a space shuttle was being flown on top of an airplane around the Bay Area for some reason. Because our school is on a hill, all the teachers let us go outside to watch it fly past. That was the day when Deja and I first established our apocalypse fantasy. This was in 2012, before the alleged apocalypse, and we decided that we were going to be the sole female survivors and the goddess-queens of Apocalypse Island, where all the men would worship us. Gucci Mane would also be on the island, and we would frolic and party and ride dolphins and be hippies forever and rebuild society as a matriarchy.

Deja is the coolest person ever because she likes to turn up, but she is also really smart and artsy and passionate about social justice, just like me. We are also both vegetarians and feminists, and we both LOVE the movie Spring Breakers. Right now her li’l hippie soul is running around Washington, D.C. while I am still here in California. Even though we are on opposite sides of the country, I know we will be friends forever and eventually rule Apocalypse Island, sipping coconut juice and dancing all day like spring break forever.


ROOKIE: Based on your letter alone, I’m like, in love with you and Deja.

JILL: Yay!

You mentioned that you and Deja are both feminists. Was that something you bonded over right away?

In my junior year, I met Deja and I also started a feminist club at our school. I was discovering a feminist community, and she was really into it, too. We bonded over that, but our immediate connection actually was in math class, talking about fashion and the apocalypse and random stuff. I think Deja literally has had, like, 20 hairstyles since I’ve known her, but at that point she had braids with little seashells in them, and I was like, “Oh, that’s so cool!” We were talking about music, and I really liked Grimes, and I was like, “We HAVE to go see Grimes at Treasure Island [music festival]!” We ended up going together, and that was the first time we hung out. It was really cool.

How exactly did Apocalypse Island start?

Apocalypse Island! So basically, it was 2012, and the whole apocalypse was coming or whatever. I was obsessed with it. I’m not sure why. I guess maybe it came from me not really connecting with other people or fitting in at school, but I had this idea, like, What if everyone else was gone, and it was just me? And then I’d get to roam around the earth by myself. When I met Deja, it became like, “We’re going to be the last two women on Earth!” It was this sort-of fantasy, and I think it came from the grind of high school, and thinking about this paradise island in contrast to how hard school was at that time.

What are some of your mutual obsessions now?

I wrote this in the letter, but we’re both really into Spring Breakers. A lot of people hated on it, but it’s such a beautifully constructed movie. It’s really fun to watch. Deja and I are still always saying “Spring break!” It’s sort of something that we want to do together—like as friends go on some wild adventure-vacation, with maybe a little danger, but without the crime [like in the movie].

Yeah, you don’t want that to happen. So, there’s the spring break fantasy. And the Apocalypse Island fantasy—but the apocalypse has to happen first.

Right! [Laughs]

In the world you’re living in now, though, if you could go on an adventure-vacation with Deja anywhere, where would you go?

Oh, wow. I’d have to ask her about where we should go. I’d want to go to New York with her because I’ve only been there twice, and both for very short periods of time. It’s such an intense city, and such a vibrant city, that I feel like we could really take it on together and have a blast.

Deja is away at school now, right? What has it been like, being so far from your best friend?

It really sucks! She’s a year older than me, so she left for college before I did. That actually made me make new friends and discover my small group within my senior class. But I really miss Deja, and we send each other texts and talk on the phone. When she came back for summer break, it was like no time had passed. We were hanging out with each other like every day, and going out and having fun again. I feel like even though we’re far apart, we’re going to be friends for a really long time. I can handle it now.

I’m so happy for both of you, that you are so dedicated to each other! And that you’re keeping it going.

Yeah! And we met in such a random way! We weren’t even in the same grade at school, and I don’t think we had any mutual friends. We really connected, so that’s special.

What do you love most about Deja?

She has a really positive, imaginative mind. She can find beauty and fun in so many things. We’ll be walking down the street, and she’ll take a picture because she’ll see something—something beautiful to her, that just clicks. I think that’s really cool. She gives life to things that are ordinary or unnoticed.

Thank you so much, Jill! It was so great talking to you!

Yeah! Oh my gosh, yay! I feel like there’s always so much more to say, but you don’t want this article to be, like, soooooo long!

Whatever! That doesn’t matter, it was so much fun! Bye!


♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

ROOKIE: Hey, Deja!

DEJA: Hi! How are you doing?

Pretty good. How about you? How has your day been?

Um… [laughs] It’s been a little rough, but it’s going good.

Has it been hard leaving California and Jill?

It’s been very hard! The culture is very different here. I miss the diversity of California. And with Jill, yeah, we have a bond like no other! I have yet to meet anyone like her.

What do you guys do to stay in touch when you’re far away?

I have to say: social media. We have so many inside jokes; I’ll see something on Instagram, she’ll see something on Facebook, we’ll tag each other, and then we’ll start talking about all the memories all over again. We find a lot of stuff on the internet that reminds us of each other.

That’s so great! What makes your bond so incredible?

She’s more optimistic and wild, and I’m a Libra, so I kind of balance the wildness and give her a more calm perspective on our stories. She is the most open person ever, so anyone around her will feel open, too. Like, I know I can go with her to any type of event, and she’ll make people feel like she is their friend, you know?

She’s so cool! The way she described your friendship makes it seem like the best teen-movie plot!


Yeah! And she said you both love Spring Breakers–can you tell me what you love about it?

Oh! [laughs] Because they’re, like, fun girls that like to try new things and party wild, and that’s basically us! She loves James Franco, and I happen to LOVE Gucci Mane, and those are the two main male characters. And it’s so odd that those two characters would come together, just like me and her were coming together, so it was a perfect reflection of us!

Jill said earlier that on Apocalypse Island…

[Both laugh]

…Gucci Mane would be there with you, frolicking around!

Yes! She made me a whole map of our island, and we were mermaids. And she made me a soundtrack to go with it!

You know you can buy an island for, like, a thousand dollars now. You should totally make this happen!

When we retire! We’ll live together on an island.

Minus the apocalypse part. Definitely plus Gucci Mane.

We’ll bring him to the island!

What was it like before you and Jill became friends? Did you know each other at all, or…

I had never, ever seen her or met her during my years at high school. We were taking math class and had to sit together, and I had these shells in my twists. It was our first day meeting each other, and all of a sudden she started playing with my hair! I was like, “Okaaaay…” And then, I think the shells led to talking about an island, and we started talking about the apocalypse, and then she was like, “There’s a music festival on an island!” And that’s how our friendship started—we went to Treasure Island Music Festival.

So it was super sudden that you became friends!

Very sudden!

Did you instantly feel a connection with her?

Yeah, it was instant! We started talking, and the talking never stopped! It was just… natural.

What do you miss most about Jill, now that you’re both living in different time zones?

Oh my god! What I miss most is that she is the person that kept me loving the things in life that might otherwise annoy me. Like, when something annoys me, she’ll find the good in it. I really miss that! She was like, my little heartbeat, for real! She kept me happy about things.

That’s so sweet!

Yeah! I’m getting so sad thinking about this!

I’m sorry for making you sad. You guys are the best!

Thank you!

It was great talking to you, Deja!

Bye! ♦

(Interviews by Lucy, with Lena.)

To nominate your own Friend Crush, send an email telling us what makes her the queen of your heart-island to Please include both of your names and ages and a big, clear picture of each of you. Thank you!

The Rookie Gift Guide: Wild Style

Monday, 24 November 2014 08:00 pm
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Posted by Marie

The hollerdays are upon us, and as so many of us know, IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO EVER KNOW WHAT TO GIVE ANYONE, blargh! Never fear: Also upon us is another round of Rookie Gift Guides! Our intrepid team of style, beauty, tech, DIY, and general life enthusiasts will be hand-plucking their favorite presents that the internet has to offer for your perusal, starting with today’s roundup of interesting, funny, dazzling, and/or cool clothing and accessories. No matter how inscrutable your pal’s taste, pizza BFF necklaces are kind of universally excellent.

Marie’s picks

YouWereSwelltote Creature From the Black Lagoon tote bag
You can never really go wrong with a tote bag—they’re useful in a million ways. If your BFF loves sci-fi as much as she does ’50s romance comics, (a) she sounds really cool and (b) this Creature From the Black Lagoon-themed tote from You Were Swell is probably going to make her do a karate kick of joy into the air. Just try not to stand too close when you give it to her….just in case. (You Were Swell, $15)

SnackShades copy “Snack Attack Coco” sunglasses
Ride the snackwave with these ultra-rad sunglasses that feature hot dogs, donuts, and our #1 lover, PIZZA, adorning its frames. No UV rays will stand a chance against these delicious sun-blockers. GREAT—now I’m hungry. (Gasoline Glamour, $40)

MARTIAN_EYES_01_1024x1024 Martian eyes leggings
You ever feeeeeel liiiiike somebody’s watchin’ you? Hellz Bellz teamed up with Looney Tunes to make some killer threads, one of which are these awesome Marvin the Martian eyeball leggings. (Hellz Bellz, $38)

JewelSox Jewel-print socks
Why would anyone wanna wear regular white socks when crazy prints like these exist? Imagine when the lucky recipient of these beauties lifts up their pant leg to scratch their ankle and someone nearby screams at how mesmerizing these gems are. Try not to be jealous when everyone fawns over these fancy jewelz. Better yet: Secretly buy a pair for yourself. That’s what I’d do. ::emoji kiss:: (Sway Chic, $5)

dolls_kill_angel_of_mine_backpack_1__2 “Angel of Mine” backpack
A true ANGEL would have this backpack on the top of their wish list. It comes in a bubblegum color combination with embroidered wings. It might not be big enough to hold any books, but who cares? (Dolls Kill, $48)

Pineapple clips Pineapple clips
If you’re friends with a pineapple princess who would like nothing more than to be able to accessorize with her favorite fruit, these clips are a great pick! They’ll surely spice up a cardigan—after all, it IS sweater weather. (Pinup Girl Clothing, $25)

beatitcreep1_1024x1024Wanda Woodward T-shirt
Puttin’ creeps in their place = what Cry Baby’s Wanda Woodward does best. This tee shows her doing just that! It comes in sizes small to 4X, so it’s perfect for a wide range of the John Waters superfans in your life. I think Uncle John would approve! (Candy Strike, $28.50)

Gabi’s picks

beyBeyoncé “Scribble” tee
I never feel more empowered than when I’m listening to Queen Bey, and wearing her on my bod is just as good. Gift this tee to your girl gang, then wear it while recreating the “7/11” video at your next sleepover. (Beyoncé, $30)

whatever“Whatever” clutch
This is a must-have for your one friend with the most nonchalantly killer style around. (ASOS, $24.50)

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 12.52.05 PMBunny onesie; pink onesie
I swear by comfy onesies in the winter—everyone deserves to experience the level of pure bliss you feel inside them. They’re perfect for lazy days when “plans” consist of Netflix bingeing and scrolling through Tumblr. (From left: Forever 21, $23; Deb, $25)

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 1.09.12 PMRyan Gosling socks
Hey, girl, have I ever told you how good your feet smell? Let Ryan Gosling grin at your friend in praise every time she looks down at these amazing socks. (Clashist, $14.50)

wingBejeweled bun comb
This jeweled comb is the chicest accessory for your messy top-knot loving buds. It’s great for adding some last minute OOMPH to a look. (Nasty Gal, $25)

bffpizzaBFF pizza necklaces
Never underestimate the power of BFF necklaces! Nothing says “friends forever” like matching pizza slices with heart-shaped pepperoni. I’d reserve this honor for my ride-or-die bestie, but you could also pass ‘em out to everyone until you make a whole pie. (SucreSucreMiniatures, $20)

Saturday Links: Stanning for One Direction Edition

Saturday, 22 November 2014 05:10 pm
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Posted by Meredith


Image by Leslie Feinberg.

Image by Leslie Feinberg.

This week saw the passing of the author, activist, and revolutionary communist Leslie Feinberg. In addition to authoring the life-changingly incredible novel Stone Butch Blues (and many other texts on queer and trans life), ze was a managing editor of Workers World newspaper, in which ze maintained a longstanding column about queer history. Feinberg also worked tirelessly as a human rights advocate from the 1970s onward, educating and organizing against oppression and human rights violations in hir community and beyond. Hir tireless pursuit of a free and just world will continue to inspire millions in the years to come.

November 20 was the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day set aside to honor those who have lost their lives as a result of transphobic violence and to acknowledge and consider how those losses affect queer and trans communities around the globe. are at a far greater risk of murder and suicide than the general population, but when considering what it means to lose one’s life to transphobia, one must also take into account the disproportionate rate of homelessness among trans youths, the very real consequences of losing jobs or housing situations, targeting by law enforcement and the prison-industrial complex, and being unable to get access to (or being denied) adequate medical care.

In the last year, there have been 226 reported deaths in over 20 countries, with an overwhelming majority being trans women of color. This is an incredibly important truth that often gets glossed over, even in the trans community, which is a harmful form of erasure that can only be stopped by active unlearning on an individual level. It’s imperative even in times of reflection and remembrance to consider what we can do going forward to repudiate the systems that have already taken so many lives in order to prevent them from claiming more.

Image via Gawker.

Image via Gawker.

Fun fact: My father was a TV news reporter for most of my childhood. He had a closet of tailored suits, ironed dress shirts, and every color tie under the sun. It was his uniform, day in and day out, and aside from the ironing, it was effortless. The women at his station weren’t so lucky. They were often subjected to phone calls and emails critiquing their hairstyles and message board threads about outfits, and it was common knowledge that female broadcast journalists were constantly having their appearance monitored by the viewing public.

Karl Stefanovic, a male newscaster in Australia, took notice of this cruel dichotomy. Stefanonic quietly decided to wear the same suit every day for a year, so as to draw attention to the constant, unfair criticism his female co-anchor received about her appearance. And, SURPRISE… not! Nobody gave a damn about his suit, or even noticed. Cool, and sort of gross, of him to point it out that way.


Image via Jezebel.

Image via Jezebel.

Drake’s the type of dude who seems like he genuinely appreciates and loves mother-like figures, so the writer Jia Tolentino’s interview with Drizzy’s vocal coach, Dionne Osborne, comes off especially cute. Osborne details the loving and honest work relationship between her and one Mr. Aubrey Graham. Osborne imparts little tidbits of Drake trivia, discussing his love of sweet tea, his kind disposition, and his willingness to take direction. The conversation is hella interesting and Osborne makes some super important points on how rappers should engage with vocal training in the same way pop singers do. My absolute favorite part is when she answers the question on the coolest tour stop she’s visited:

One time we started a tour in Düsseldorf, Germany—I can’t remember the name of the facility right now, but it’s where Hitler used to hold his youth rallies. The original balconies are still there, and the second balcony on the right was literally where Hitler stood, and the Allies dropped the bomb straight through the roof, and the bomb did not explode.

I looked at Drake and was like, “You, as a black Jewish man, are standing on this stage right now.” I was like, how cool is this—it’s the ultimate finger to everything Hitler stood for. And Drake gets it. He’s somebody that wants to make his mark.

Can I hire her as my life coach?!

Photo by Sara Krulwich for the New York Times.

Photo by Sara Krulwich for the New York Times.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch’s creator and original star John Cameron Mitchell is going to reprise his role in the Broadway revival AND I AM FLIPPING OUT ABOUT IT. Neil Patrick Harris opened the new run and was followed up by Andrew Rannells and now Michael C. Hall. For superfans of the off-Broadway show turned cult favorite movie musical, this is news to be totally stoked on and a run to not be missed!


Image via MTV.

Image via MTV.

On Monday AM, I spied a photo of Solange Knowles and Alan Ferguson’s wedding, where the couple was dressed in cream and white and riding all-white bicycles, in my Twitter timeline and I had to drop everything! Theirs must be the most gorgeous and original wedding I have ever seen. Solange made a striking bride in her minimalist, caped cream pantsuit AND dress. Tumblr and Twitter were graced with photo after flawless photo of Solange (and her majestic afro) in the company of her husband, her sister King Bey, and their mama Tina Knowles looking regal. This wedding made my week!

Photo by Nathaniel Wood for the New York Times.

Photo by Nathaniel Wood for the New York Times.

Willow and Jaden Smith are so cool! What I love about them: their fierce spirits, and how committed they are to learning about the world and interpreting life according to their own unique perspectives. The fact that they’re in the spotlight means that they get called “weird” a lot, and it’s great to see that they don’t want to conform to be deemed more acceptable. I found myself nodding along as I read this New York Times interview with the Smith siblings, like, I get it, I get it! I think they’re both so smart.


Image by Norbert Wu, Minden Pictures/Corbis.

Image by Norbert Wu, Minden Pictures/Corbis.

Like many of my fellow Rooks, I love the ocean and think deep sea creatures are literally the best thing ever, so for the past year I’ve been following the story of the large die-off of sea stars (or starfish, as I’ve always called them) along the West Coast of the US and Canada with deep sadness. This week, researchers identified what’s plaguing the starfish as “sea star-associated densovirus.”

This National Geographic article breaks “densovirus” down for science/ecology laypeople like me, explaining that this type of parvovirus—meaning a kind of virus that mostly affects animals, a word I recognized as something the vet ruled out when my cat was having stomach problems—melts the starfish into white slime over the course of a few weeks. The scientists don’t know what triggered the outbreak that is killing millions of sea stars, but they hope that, with continued research, they can prevent it from spreading to sea stars in other parts of the world.

On Wednesday, the 2014 National Book Awards were celebrated in New York City. Here’s a full breakdown of the NBA winners, but the one I am most excited about is Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming, which won in the “Young People’s Literature” category. It’s a beautiful memoir told in verse about Woodson’s coming of age in South Carolina and New York during the ’60s and ’70s as the Jim Crow era came to an end and the Civil Rights movement gained momentum.

However, Woodson’s moment was tarnished by the host, Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, making racist jokes straight afterward. Handler has apologized, and with that apology made a major donation to the We Need Diverse Books campaign, but it’s still disgusting that it happened. Again, Woodson’s book is brilliant—so that it isn’t overshadowed by the controversy, I encourage you all to read it!

Another moment from the NBAs that should not be overlooked: The speech that the legendary fantasy writer Ursula Le Guin made after being awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. She had much to say about art versus commerce and profit versus freedom. It’s worth listening to and thinking about.


Image by Eduardo Verdugo/Associated Press.

Image by Eduardo Verdugo/Associated Press.

When members of a drug cartel confessed to the murder of 43 student activists from the rural Ayotzinapa Normal school in Mexico, it wasn’t enough to stop the tide of civilian protest that was unleashed when the 43 went missing on September 26. On November 20, the anniversary of the start of the 1910 Mexican Revolution, the country went on a nationwide strike, staging massive protests that were echoed in smaller versions around the world.

The vast majority of people taking to the streets over the Ayotzinapa 43 are regular old civilians who are sick of business as usual—similar to those who were activated in the United States during Occupy. The reporter Daniel Hernandez released two and a half hours of raw, live footage from the big rally in Mexico City. In the video, he goes into the crowds and interviews the protesters. Watching this video, I got a sense of the increasing awareness that is sweeping the country.

Photo by Jennifer Kirkland via VICE.

Photo by Jennifer Kirkland via VICE.

You’ll get a case of real-life shivers after reading this piece on a man who was found with a self-inflicted stab wound in a haunted house in Iowa. Remind me again why people pay money to sleep in ghost-infected historic sites?

The only thing sadder than the gruesome campus rape story that opens this piece on predatory college campus culture in Rolling Stone is the fact that few women who have attended a sloshy party at a frat house will find it shocking. This piece is a damning indictment not only of University of Virginia, where the attack took place and was summarily swept under the rug, but of college administrations everywhere that accept sexual violence as part of the four-year experience. Proceed with caution: trigger warnings for sexual assault.


Image via Jezebel.

Image via Jezebel.

It’s been a big week for One Direction, and of course the stans are hella out right now. So why not read this amazing and “sobering” roundtable about 1D? The conversation touches on the guys’ current relationship with their fans, their public image, and their past, present and future.

Image via Salon.

Image via Salon.

The death of Elvis Presley is just short of legendary. Salon posted an excerpt of the writer Joel Williamson’s new book, Elvis Presley: A Southern Life, which uncovers the events surrounding the King’s last breath. Was his heart really to blame? Read this enticing passage to find out!!


AHHH, RIDE HAS REUNITED! The ’90s-era shoegaze greats are playing a string of shows in Europe and North America. Ride hugely influenced lots of rock bands beyond just the shoegaze scene with their soaring melodies and deeply expressive lyrics. For a musical genre that wasn’t very popular in its heyday, it’s really incredible that the past few years has produced such interest in the nostalgic scene, and that these old shoegaze bands (like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive) can reunite to critical and commercial success. Ride’s debut album Nowhere is one of my absolute favorite records and it is an essential piece of music history—I am SO EXCITED to finally hear it played live.

The profoundly personal stories from all of the interviewees in StyleLikeU’s “What’s Underneath” project are proof that our insecurities and fears and hopes are singular lived experiences, but also form a common thread that ties us all together. The project has been so successful that StyleLikeU has launched a Kickstarter in order to raise funds for a feature-length documentary film. The team will travel around the world, filming stories told by people of all races, genders, body types, and ages. StyleLikeU has unwaveringly supported the notion that all bodies are valid and worthy of love, and I hope the Kickstarter is funded, so they can bring that critically important message to an even wider audience.

This week, President Obama announced several executive actions relating to undocumented immigrants. The order, which will positively impact an estimated 5 million Americans, will prevent families from being split up due to detention or deportation. Immigration policy in the United States has led to nuclear and extended families being torn apart, and going forward many families will no longer have to live with such an unconscionable fear. The President’s plan also includes a path to citizenship for undocumented Americans and expansion of the work-visa program. ♦

Friday Playlist: Arm in Arm

Saturday, 22 November 2014 04:00 am
[syndicated profile] rookie_feed

Posted by Shriya

This is a soundtrack for adventures with your soul sister or blood brother. Go on, confess your love for ’em! There’s nothing like tender-hearted friend love.

Illustration by Minna.

Illustration by Minna.

How to Be Friends With Your Ex

Saturday, 22 November 2014 12:00 am
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Posted by Lola

Illustration by Kelly.

Illustration by Kelly.

ROOKIE: The editors of are wondering whether you’d be interested in writing a piece for A World of Our Own about being best friends with your/an ex?


Absconds to mountaintop castle, and after 20 years returns to the village with long beard and thick scroll, which reads

Let us begin with the end! Brooklyn, New York, in a little joint called Best Pizza. A young heterosexual couple is eating slices and laughing. One is me. I’m cute and have curly hair. The other is my boyfriend of nearly five years, fiancé of one year, and ex of about 20 minutes, Johnny Utah (not his real name; actually the name of Keanu Reeves’s character in the 1991 surf thriller Point Break). What are we laughing about? Who gets to throw their engagement ring at the other person first.

That our breakup was going to be as unusual as our relationship was already evident as we chewed our crusts. We were proud of what we had accomplished as partners; we were a team through an abortion, a major depression, moving in together, and moving far away from each other. We had shot each other with a plastic BB gun (after asking politely first) and had long talks about death. We were so smug about our recent breakup, actually, that we enjoyed everyone’s sympathy but also congratulations on our fifth anniversary, which we celebrated anyway. Three years later, I introduce him as my ex-fiancé/current best friend and all-around Significant Other.

Is this you, or do you want it to be? If you are in a similar position, this ending is here for your beginning. HOW DO YOU BECOME BEST FRIENDS WITH YOUR EX? CRIPES, HOW DO YOU STAY FRIENDS WITH YOUR EX?

Secret the First: Everyone’s Gotta Be All In

Why would you want to be friends with your ex, anyway? For me, Johnny was the coolest funniest and weirdest person I had ever met, and also the best friend I had ever had. When I was hurting, I saw that it hurt Johnny, too. Nobody had ever cared like that for me before, including myself. He was patient and kind and always honest with me. I valued his opinion above everyone else’s on everything but music (he’s really into noise music, whereas I prefer anything with feelings).

If you’re reading this article, I’m assuming that you have (1) self and (1) ex with x reasons as to why you want to make (1) ex = (1) friend. But let’s take a look there, because Being Friends has not worked out particularly well for me when:

  • It was a way to reduce collateral damage (“Don’t worry, we can still both be at a party! We can still both hang with our group!”);
  • I was trying push away the inevitability that I would become less of a priority to this person than I wanted to be (“We can still hang out all the time!”);
  • It was out of guilt (I had hurt them and thought being friends would lessen their heartbreak);
  • It was out of fear (I had been hurt by them and thought being friends would lessen my heartbreak);
  • It was in the hopes that if we were friends long enough it will be so fun they’ll want to date me again (people, it’s not worth the price of two season tickets to Six Flags Great Adventure theme park, although if you’ve already taken this step, I am available most weekends in the summer and my contact information is on the staff page);
  • If we couldn’t be romantically involved anymore, it was the next best thing.

These reasons for friendship are not because I wanted to be friends with another person—they are because I didn’t want to accept a feeling or, EVEN WORSE, feel that feel at all. Avoidance and denial have caused me a lot of drama, suffering, and grief. All the times I forwarded emails from an ex to other friends so they could just read them because I thought an ex wanted to hang out with me but why did he/she keep postponing plans OR I made big pronouncements to my ex to woo them into spending time with me—I was trying not to feel something. Usually that something was abandonment, loss, or rejection—hard feelings for sure, but the amount of effort I was putting into not having them, you’d think they were fatal diseases instead of transitory moods. (I have yet to die of a feeling, and trust me, I have tried. Very hard.) In each case I can think of, it was important to be my own best friend/sweetheart/make-out partner for a while after the breakup. With Johnny, it meant going to things on my own where it would have been easy to go with him, too, or something as small as being proud of myself for things I’d accomplished without sharing them with him. Any time I tried to tuck friendship into the hole my romantic relationship had left behind because it was “good enough,” I wasn’t being accountable to the other person or to myself.

Did I know that these were my motivations at the time? RARELY. And that’s OK. But it’s worth a hard think. A trick: If you can’t kick the feeling that just being friends is still somehow Less or Second Prize, then it’s probably not a great time to reach out to the other person about friendship. I mean, you don’t look at every one of the friends you’ve never been anything but platonic with and think, “God…if we only could be making out right now.” Even though that making out is technically a possibility, right? It’s equally disingenuous to date someone you don’t really like and to not-date someone you really like: neither honors the wishes of both people, and both are means to an end.

Whatever your motivations are, just make them clear. Informed consent ain’t just for the bedroom, y’all. Asking yourself, “Is this what I want or is this enough of what I want that I can deal with it, right now?” is a scary question. If you ask for what you want, you might not get it. But the only thing you can lose by asking someone, genuinely, if they have the same motivations as you is a false relationship. If you put out a hand for friendship and get back a shrug or a snub, don’t take it personally: It’s the opportunity for both of you to move on to something that meets your needs. If you had stuck around, you would have been working very hard to make yourself want the things that relationship was giving you as opposed to getting the things you wanted from that relationship, which is almost always an exhausting process.

Lip Service

Friday, 21 November 2014 08:00 pm
[syndicated profile] rookie_feed

Posted by Brittany

kiss Nivea A Kiss of Moisture Essential Lip Care (Beiersdorf)
In the winter, catch me coated in a thick and glossy layer of Nivea moisturizers all over my body. On my lips, I love using the brand’s A Kiss of Moisture balm. I put it on every night before I sleep and every morning right after I shower. It’s vaguely minty and leaves a nice glossy finish that doesn’t go on too thick or leave gross residue behind. If a minty taste is not your vibe, may I also suggest Nivea’s A Kiss of Milk & Honey for something sweeter upon thine lips? —Brittany

bbbbBeeswax Lip Balm (Burt’s Bees)
I’m taking one for Team Obvious here, but I have to admit that this choice is an uncommon one for me. I’m the kind of stealthy beauty/health consumer that will try anything—ANYTHING—in order to stumble upon a miraculous, undiscovered remedy that I get to humblebrag about as my Ultimate Beauty Secret!!! So it’s hard for me to feel EXCITED that Burt’s Bee’s original beeswax balm is my end-all, be-all, all-season, foolproof lip moisturizer of choice, as it’s popular, cheap, and ubiquitous at any ol’ drugstore. Well, I guess none of that is bad. It just means I don’t have a special, personal secret when it comes to my lip zones. I’ll live.

Burt’s Bees Original Beeswax Lip Balm works really, really well, and that’s what matters most! In the midst of a recent cold snap (don’t laugh at me, East Coasters—38 DEGREES WAS A REAL SHOCK TO MY SYSTEM), this formula was without a doubt the only product that returned my lips to normal and put an end to that atrocious non-stop feeling of having to smack my lips all the time because dry paiiiiin. Oh my GOD, that feeling sucks.

While I’m on the subject, you know what else sucks? ANY OTHER FLAVOR of Burt’s Bee’s lip balm. It’s a whole line of disappointment. I’ve gone through every delicious-seeming flavor variety: Mango! Pomegranate! Honey! Doesn’t honey sound good? Well, I’m sorry to report that it is NOT. It is a BAD ChapStick. I guess that instead of adding pleasant flavors to his perfect original formula, Burt (why, Burt, why?) created entirely different-flavored lip balm recipes without even a fraction of the healing, moisturizing, soothing powers of the original Beeswax Lip Balm. Forgo the tempting flavors and stick with the original. It might be the obvious choice, but it’s the one that’s never let me down. —Dylan

labello Labello Classic Care (Beiersdorf)
Let me tell you about a weirdly creamy yet slick yet ungreasy lip balm I fell in love with in Europe. LABELLO, greatest of all balms. LABELLO, the healing. Labello of the slight scent and gentle shine and hundred other uses. You guys, this stuff is the absolute best—it heals cracked and bleeding lips within a few applications, you can put it on your cuticles, eyebrows, and cheeks, and it comes with a hard translucent cap that makes a satisfying chock sound when you replace the cover, which makes it a great thing to fiddle with in your coat pocket. There are many Labello flavors in the Labello family, but don’t eff with any of them (except Hydrocare, which is like putting a splash of actual cold water on your lips), because there’s no use trying to improve perfection—original Labello is already perfect. One of my ex-boyfriends living in Milan sends me a package full of Labello every year—even though we’re both gay now, we remain united in our quest for enviably soft lips. —Krista

maran Argan Infinity Lip And Cheek Creamy Oil (Josie Maran)
This stuff feels like the nectar of the gods when you put it on and it inflates your lips, not because it’s one of those stinging plumping products, but because they get juicy FAT hydrated. The color’s buildable and looks super natural (and supernatural) on your cheeks, too. I have it in every color except coral because I don’t do that, but I especially love Boundless Berry. —Amy Rose

babyyy Baby Lips Electro Lip Balm in Minty Sheer (Maybelline)
This is a drugstore staple that comes in four lines: the pastel-tinted, fruit-flavored Baby Lips; the neutral tinted Dr. Rescue; the warm, shimmery shades of Crystal; and (my favorite) Electro, which comes in a rainbow variety of neon colors. I was immediately drawn to the bright green shade, Minty Sheer. I like imagining that it’s part of a wicked witch’s beauty routine, because goodness knows screeching, smooching demons, and riding through the wind on your broom can be drying on the lips. Although most of the Baby Lips colors have a slight tint, this one actually goes on clear. It tastes subtly minty, and—best of all—it’s smooth, non-greasy, and actually moisturizes your lips. —Leanna

140 Rosebud Salve (Smith’s)
I remember being particularly proud of a sticker I had on my planner back in high school that declared, in two-inch-tall letters, QUESTION EVERYTHING. I believe this still in most cases—it’s just better to know, you know? But once in a while, if it’s something I really, really love, if it isn’t doing any active harm, I just don’t read the ingredients.

Once upon a time, I believed that Smith’s Rosebud Salve was magic. The packaging makes me feel like I’m in a speakeasy coatroom rifling through Anaïs Nin’s pockets, it smells like an elegant old lady’s house, and its ridiculously shiny without being gooey like a lip gloss. It doesn’t really absorb, so it keeps your lips protected from the wind (key when you live in the frozen hellscape that is far upstate New York), and in a pinch it works as highlighter. Its slight pink tint makes your lips, cheeks and eyelids glow, which makes me feel downright cherubic. Miracle product. Or so I was convinced, until I read the ingredients. It’s just Vaseline with some essential oil and pink tint. Magic, moderately tarnished. I guess that’s the consequence of questioning everything! —Meredith

lucas Lucas’ Papaw Ointment (Lucas’ Papaw Remedies)
This can be a little tricky to get outside Australia, but if you live elsewhere and can somehow track it down, you will be rewarded for your effort. I’ve been rubbing this stuff on my person since the moment I took control of my hands—and before that, my mum would rub it on my chubby baby butt for me.

As well as being a super nourishing and shiny lip balm, it works anywhere you need a bit of extra moisture: Apply it to chafed skin before bed; rub it on your dry heels then pop some cotton socks on for a deep/cheap pedi; squeeze it onto a Band-Aid before affixing it to a blister; rub it into scars to speed up healing; mix it with some coarse sugar for a super cheap lip scrub. One tiny tube in your bag is like a shortcut to surviving winter. My favorite way to use it is to get a bit gross and rub it on my lips, then around my nose (if I’ve got the sniffles and have been rubbing it raw with tissues), before finally putting a little bit inside my nostrils, just to keep any pollen or stray grossness from getting up in my business. —Brodie

tumblr_mbjqvuga9Q1qdetvy Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Swivel Stick (E.T. Browne Drug Co.)
My friend Nina introduced me to this lip balm when we were in high school. She called it the Cat Butt, which is what looks like—a giant glue stick with a divot in the center, exactly like a cat butt. Just what you want to put on your mouth! Except that this cat butt smells like cocoa butter (delicious!) and makes your lips silky smooth. The fact that it looks like you’re about to paste a collage on your face is just a bonus. —Emma S.

3004_Mntlipbalm_g_hrwebIntense Therapy Lip Balm (Jack Black)
Last month, my lips reached a level of dryness that I’m pretty sure had never been seen in the modern world. They were like an alien-being attached to my face that would simply not cooperate. No matter how much water I drank, it didn’t help. Opening my mouth to eat became a painful ordeal, and I even started talking weird so as to not stress out the creature that now resided where my lips once were. Desperate, I took to Twitter to ask for advice on what could bring my lips back to life and rid my face of this parasite forever. The lovely writer Sarah Nicole Prickett suggested Intense Therapy Lip Balm, and I bought it the next day. When I first put it on, my lips were so far gone that I couldn’t even feel whether they were balmed. By the end of the day, my lips had regained enough elasticity that I was free to eat triple-decker sandwiches without painful repercussions. By the third day, they were back to normal. To say that this was a miraculous recovery is an understatement. I am now a faithful devotee of this balm and its very classic balm-y texture. Although it may feel greasy when you first put it on (which I don’t mind because I feel like that’s how I know it’s working), you can still kiss your significant other without it being a whole ordeal. It’s a lifesaver. —Laia

lanisohLansinoh HPA Lanolin (Lansinoh)
I know, I know, putting nipple cream on your lips sounds WEIRD. But when I say Lansinoh works for chapped lips… IT WORKS, like fabulously. It’s made from lanolin, a waxy oil that comes from sheep’s wool (which, OK, also sounds weird). I recommend using it as an overnight treatment because it’s thick and can get sticky. Warm it up between your fingertips before spreading it all over and just outside your lips. In the morning, wipe it off or just apply your normal lip balm over it. Trust me, chapped lips will be good as new (or even better). —Chanel

lip-smacker-dr-pepperDr. Pepper Lip Smacker (Bonne Bell)
I’m not even the biggest Dr. Pepper drinker, but this might be the best lip balm Lip Smacker makes. For starters, the Dr. Pepper formula is the only one of their flavors that actually smells like the real deal (as opposed to their more synthetic flavors like Bubblegum or Guava). Even Coca-Cola doesn’t compare to Dr. Pepper’s weirdly accurate scent. You put this baby up to your nose and get a sniff of that root beer-meets-dark cherry-meets—wait, what even is Dr. Pepper’s flavor? The balm also gives your lips the slightest rosy tint and a sheen that isn’t too glossy or sticky. I like to wear it as-is or layer it over matte lipsticks to give them more gloss. Is it the most medically moisturizing lip product out there? Not really, but the color, scent, and tween nostalgia packed into this tube of soda-inspired Smackers makes it a classic. —Hazel

cherry chapstickClassic Cherry ChapStick (ChapStick)
I’m a big fan of lip balms, but in my younger years, my love was next-level. My aunt used to pick me up from school once in a while, and we usually chatted on our drive home. One day I was particularly quiet, and here’s why: After getting into her car and buckling up, I asked if she had any ChapStick. She handed me a brand-new tube of the cherry-flavored variety (a perennial classic). When we arrived at our destination, and she asked for her ChapStick back, I bashfully shared a bit of bad news: I’d eaten all of it. (Not the plastic, mind you. Just the chap. Still gross.) While this lip balm’s cherry color and scent may be enticing, it’s a treat best enjoyed by following the essential rule of lip-balm etiquette: DON’T EAT IT. —Lauren

227564Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm (NUXE Rêve de Miel)
This was recommended by a pharmacist when she saw the desperate state of my chapped lips one winter. She told me it was “the only thing that really works” and she was so right. One blob of this thick, golden-yellow balm on my lips at night, and I wake up with a peanut-butter smooth pout. It smells like honey but it’s not sticky. I can’t use anything else now. —Cynthia

220Natural Hawaiian Lip Balm (Alba Botanica)
I’m a big fan of Alba’s shampoos and body lotions, so I decided to give their lip balm a whirl. I picked up this one in the Pineapple Quench flavor, and it is DIVINE. It tastes like the pineapple candy I used to get when I was a li’l BB. It’s made with aloe and coconut oil and leaves my lips soft and ready for SMOOCHIN’. I’m excited to try their Coconut Cream version next. —Marie

Image_1_Sweet_Mint_Open_rev_35Smooth Sphere Lip Balm (Evolution of Smooth)
I’ve never been much of a product expert, and I try to stick with the basics when it comes to my *beauty routine*. Last winter, I suffered from the inevitable crumbly lip, and wasn’t sure what to do beyond my usual slathering-on of coconut oil. I turned to my beauty guru, my 13 year-old stepsister. She insisted that I try to find “that weird round one” to cure my ailment, and told me her goal is to have every color/flavor rolling around in her makeup drawer. She was talking about Smooth Sphere Lip Balm, and it truly was the answer to my cute-lip conundrum. I opt for the Sweet Mint flavor, as it produces a nice tingle when it hits the cold air. And it’s not goopy at all! It does exactly what I want it to do: It keeps my lips soft, doesn’t give me hair-stuck-to-lips syndrome, and is aesthetically pleasing in the front pocket of my yellow backpack. —Allyssa

moisture-meltMoisture Melt (Blistex)
Thanks to a love of playing in the snow, blasting the heat indoors, and wearing matte lipsticks, my lips get pretty messed up in the winter. I’ve used a bazillion lip balms over the years and found most of them pretty frustrating—they’d be too slimy, or too medicinal, or would taste and/or look nice but not do a thing for the actual condition of my lips. But Moisture Melt is the best. It has these little moisture beads in it (like bath beads for your lips, I guess?) and keeps my lips super soft all day. It is also super helpful to apply some a few minutes before you put on your lip color—it makes the color go on smoother and last longer. Good stuff, man! —Pixie

balm dotcomBalm Dotcom (Glossier)
I’m smitten with this thick, emollient salve for lips/hands/cuticles/whatever. Because my lip routine is to apply balm liberally, and then after a few minutes blot my lips on the back of my hand (so I can apply my super-matte lipsticks to a hydrated but not-slick set of lips), something that does double- and triple-hydrating duty is perfect for me. The cherry on top is the really cute pink ‘n’ white minimal tube design. —Elizabeth ♦

26 Ideas for Advent (with Sybil MacBeth)

Tuesday, 25 November 2014 11:15 pm
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Posted by Rachel Held Evans

Image from Sybil MacBeth, "The Season of the Nativity" 

Image from Sybil MacBeth, "The Season of the Nativity" 

Advent is a season of anticipation, of holy waiting. It is a waiting characterized not by idleness or even contented peace, but by prophetic yieldedness and active hope. Perhaps more than any other season in the Christian calendar, Advent acknowledges the already-and-not-yet nature of the Kingdom of God. In remembering the anticipation of Christ’s first coming, we acknowledge and nurture our anticipation of Christ’s second coming. Advent is a season for the prophets, for the dreamers, for the poets. A great light has shown, but there is still so much darkness to pierce, so much gloom to overcome. 

 Advent should be a season of surprises too, of God showing up when and where we least expect Emmanuel: in a womb, in a barn, as a poor minority in an oppressive empire, at the soup kitchen, at that church service you resisted attending, in that family member with whom you disagree, in every corner of this world from Ferguson, Missouri, to Palestine, to your kitchen. It a season to slow down and pay attention, to listen to the prophets, to look for God in God’s distressing disguises. 

To help us do this, I’ve compiled a list of 26 ideas for Advent 2014, and this year I’ve enlisted the help of Sybil MacBeth, author of Praying in Color and The Season of the Nativity, from which several of these ideas are drawn. My goal was to mix family-friendly activities with ideas for contemplation, giving, and prophetic action in response to injustice. Next week I will launch an Advent series here and on social media with the theme "Pay Attention." The focus will be on the the prophetic witness that preceded the first Advent and that still persists today. (See details below.) Please feel free to leave your own ideas in the comment section so we can make this an even better resource for all. 

5 Questions to Ask Yourself…

1.    When I wake up on Christmas morning, how will I be different? How do I hope the meditations and practices of the season will shape me? 

2.    How can I prepare myself, my home, and my family for the arrival of Jesus in a way that nurtures a spirit of anticipation and hope? 

3.    Have I left enough space in the busy holiday season to pay attention, to listen, to wait, and to be surprised? What practical steps can I take to both guard those quiet moments but also embrace divine interruptions? 

4.    Consider the effects of light. It can warm and it can guide, but it can also expose and surprise. What does light in the darkness mean for the world? What does it mean for my life in this season? 

5.    What does it mean to listen to the prophets in this season—not just the prophets of old, but the prophets of today? Who is crying out for justice and peace from the margins, and what will I do to heed their calls? 

5 Meditations….

1. Isaiah 60, Isaiah 7:14/ “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”/ Collect for the First Sunday of Advent, Book of Common Prayer 

2. Isaiah 35,  Isaiah 53 (The Message interprets Isaiah 53 beautifully)/  “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” / Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent, Book of Common Prayer

3. John 1:1-18/ “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent”/ Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent, Book of Common Prayer 

4. Mary’s song: Luke 1:46-55, Zecharia’s Song: Luke 1:68-79, Simeon’s song: Luke 2:29-32/ “O Holy Night”/ Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Advent, Book of Common Prayer

5. On Christmas Day: Luke 2:1-21/ “Joy to the World,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”/ Collect for Christmas Day, The Book of Common Prayer 

12 Activities and Ideas…

Image by Sybil MacBeth

Image by Sybil MacBeth

1. From Sybil: “Advent calendars are not just for kids! Instead of opening daily doors with pictures or retrieving small gifts from pockets, adults and children can mark the day-by-day journey to Christmas by praying/drawing on a blank calendar template. Pray for a person or write and meditate on an Advent word each day. Just the small amount of time it takes to fill the space with doodles and color each day can create a time of quiet, reflection, and listening to God. Set aside a table with a basket of markers and/or colored pencils where family members can work on their calendars. Hang the calendars on the wall for all to see. Watch them grow daily.” (You can find three fantastic, FREE templates here.) 

2. Mark the start of the new Church year with a commitment to practice fixed-hour prayer through the daily offices. A great place to start this Advent season is with Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime. 

3.  Choose 26 people who do difficult, prophetic work, who serve from the margins, or who are in a special season of waiting and anticipation. Pray for them. Encourage them. Listen to them. Make them the focus of your Advent calendar (see above). Consider presenting them with a small gift—a kind note, a cup of coffee, a donation, a few extra volunteer hours, a public shout-out, a bouquet of flowers or pot of homemade soup. (I’m thinking of people like Lisa Sharon Harper, who has worked tirelessly on immigration reform; Justin Lee, who models and practices “living in the tension” through his work with the Gay Christian Network; Karla, the struggling mother of three whose infectious smile greets thousands of people at our local food pantry here in Rhea County; our friends from Samaritan’s Purse working with Ebola patients in West Africa; or Sarah Bessey, who is expecting Tiny #4 soon.) 

4. Consider setting up your manger scene progressively, one set of figures at a time. Wait until Christmas Day to add Baby Jesus. It’s as if the rest of the figurines are waiting in anticipation—just like you and your family. 

5. From Sybil: “Cut two-inch pieces of yellow or tan yarn. Whenever you or your children notice an act of kindness during the day, invite them to add a piece of hay to Jesus’ bed.” 

Photo by Sybil MacBeth

Photo by Sybil MacBeth

6.    Church leaders: Check out these great, interactive prayer station ideas from Theresa Cho. The series of Advent-themed prayer stations engage all the senses and are meant for an intergenerational community (thought there are also some additional stations just for toddlers).  You can find another series of prayer stations here and here. 

7.    Start a Jesse Tree tradition in which ornaments representing various biblical figures and events in the redemption story are placed on a tree, their stories unfolding one at a time each day of Advent, building up to the arrival of Jesus. This is a great way to bring children into the spirit of the Advent season through biblical stories and images, and Ann Voskamp has quite a few resources for doing this well: The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas, and a whole Web site full of FREE printable ornaments, coloring pages, cards, gift tags, etc. 

8. Participate in the “Stay Woke” movement, which invites participants to reflect and act on the lectionary readings from Advent with visual art, literary and biblical reflections, music, podcasts, calls to action, and more. Hosted by the folks at Theology of Ferguson, Stay Awoke “is a project of people interested in exploring the depths of the darkness and interaction with light through the time of Advent.” Writes Mickey Jones: “It is an experiment in spiritual honesty during a time of the year that is often covers up the pain and struggle of the world with a giant glittery bow.” Follow the hashtag #StayWokeAdvent on social media. 

9.  Commit this Advent season to educating yourself (or your faith community) about a particular pervasive injustice—mass incarceration, human trafficking, child brides, infant & maternal mortality, violence against women, etc. Write prayers of prophetic lament around these injustices and generate plans of action to respond to them. Identify activists, peacemakers, and faith leaders who are working to bring light into the darkness and listen and respond to them with humility. Consider leaving just one holiday tradition behind this year, so that the absence (of a fancy meal, a familiar decoration, a favorite ornament) is a reminder of how much justice has yet to be realized in world where the Kingdom has been inaugurated but not yet consummated. Let the cry of your heart this season be, “Come, Lord Jesus.”  

Photo by Sybil MacBeth

Photo by Sybil MacBeth

10. From Sybil: “One way to teach children (and adults) about watching and waiting—but not in vain—is with bulbs. From a garden or big-box home store, purchase an amaryllis or several paperwhite narcissus bulbs. Fill a container with potting soil or stones. Plant the bulb in the soil or stones without about half of the bulb showing above the surface. Place the pot near a sunny window and water frequently….Start the bulbs on the first day of Advent. Gentle daily watering functions as a form of Advent discipline. Somewhere in the latter days of Advent or on one of the twelve days of Christmas, the plant will start to flower.”

11.  Introduce an Advent wreath into your home. Light a different candle each Sunday of Advent—one for hope, one for peace, one for joy, and one for love—concluding with a fifth candle representing the light of Christ to be lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. You can find traditional Advent wreath ideas here, and some lovely, custom wooden wreaths here. 

12.  Pay attention. Jesus showed up in an unexpected way at an unexpected time, and he just keeps on doing it. Don’t get so focused on having a powerful Christmas morning moment that you miss that quiet, unglamorous moment when Jesus shows up in day-to-day life, when his presence makes itself known in some new, convicting, or comforting way. Mark that moment, no matter when it occurs, with light—a lit candle, an orange and yellow doodle in your Advent candle, a moment in the sunshine. Revel in the surprise and make it a mini-Christmas. 

4 Additional Resources…

1.    The Season of the Nativity by Sybil MacBeth
2.    Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent by Enuma Okoro 
3.   The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann (to complement our series) 
4.    A Journey Toward Home: Soul Travel from Advent to Lent by Kristin Carrocinno and Christine Sine. 

"Pay Attention" Advent Series …

The lectionary is rich this time of year, and as I get back to blogging through the Scripture readings each week, our focus will be on paying attention to the prophetic witness of the prophets, connecting them to the Christmas story and to our present longing for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. For my own Advent calendar, I'll be picking out key words from the biblical prophecies assigned to each week (Isaiah 64:1-9; Isaiah 40:1-11; Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; and 2 Samuel 7:1-16) and adding them to my "Pay Attention" Advent tree.  (I've gone ahead and filled out the first one for Sunday, Nov. 30.) Check Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for the key words each day, as well as reflections on Advent, prophecy, and God-with-us.  I'd also love to share your own key-word Advent trees, so feel free to send images my way!


What Advent ideas would you add? What plans do you and your faith community have for this time of year? 

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Posted by Corinne Gaston

shutterstock_145266931When Peggy Young became pregnant in 2006, she needed her job’s health benefits at UPS the most. But instead of being given a new light-duty job or offered the chance to continue her regular job so long as she didn’t lift anything heavier than 20 pounds, Young was forced out of work. For the last six and a half months of her pregnancy, not only was she on unpaid leave, which caused financial distress, but she lost her health insurance. In a 2013 post on the National Women’s Law Center website, Young stated, “What started as a very happy pregnancy became one of the most stressful times of my life.”

But Young didn’t let UPS have the last word: Instead, she took them to court. Her case, Peggy Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc., alleged that UPS violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. It made it all the way up to the Supreme Court, which will hear the case on Dec. 3. How the Supreme Court rules will have a huge impact on working women across the nation—and people are taking notice.

On Nov. 24, the Center for American Progress, the National Women’s Law Center and the National Partnership for Women & Families hosted a webinar on pregnancy job discrimination and Young v. UPS. Several experts, including Michele Jawando, Rachel Lyons, Diane Feldman and Emily Martin, discussed the case, the historical context of pregnancy discrimination and information on how to take action—and it’s clear that Young has already made a difference for pregnant workers.

Despite losing her case in the lower courts and on appeal, Young forged ahead and appealed to the nation’s highest court. Perhaps UPS started feeling the pressure as the court date drew nearer, because on Oct. 27, the company announced an official change to its policy for pregnant workers. Starting Jan. 1, UPS will offer temporary light-duty positions to pregnant workers, not just to workers who have been injured on the job (which was previously allowed). UPS stated in a brief to the court:

On a going forward basis, UPS has voluntarily decided to provide additional accommodations for pregnancy-related physical limitations as a matter of corporate discretion. UPS’s new policy provides: “Light-duty work will be provided as an accommodation to pregnant employees with lifting or other physical restrictions to the same extent as such work is available as an accommodation to employees with similar restrictions resulting from on-the-job injuries.”

Being forced into unpaid leave affects pregnant workers on a grand scale: the National Partnership for Women & Families estimates that a quarter million women are denied requests each year for work accommodations during their respective pregnancies. At least at UPS, this will no longer be the case starting first thing in 2015. And it’s safe to say Young can take credit for that.

Hopefully this achievement will help pave the way for what comes next: the Supreme Court’s ruling. For decades, employers have been able to find and exploit loopholes in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA), which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “to prohibit sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy.” This led to one of the big questions addressed in the webinar, which was, “does the PDA actually mean what it says?” The upcoming Peggy Young v. United Parcel Service, Inc. ruling has the power to make the PDA virtually airtight and erase exploitable loopholes. In an issue brief, The National Partnership for Women & Families stated,

A Supreme Court decision in favor of Peggy Young would clarify that pregnant women with temporary physical limitations must be treated the same as other workers with temporary physical limitations. Pregnant women would be granted reasonable accommodations if other workers with temporary physical limitations are accommodated…A Supreme Court decision in favor of UPS would deal a critical blow to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act’s effectiveness, enabling employers to evade the law’s requirements.

In the campaign for fair and equitable treatment of pregnant workers, Peggy Young has made a difference and drawn many individuals and organizations to rally around her. Those at UPS who are considering pregnancy no longer have to worry that they’ll be out of a job once they’re a few months along. But pregnant workers in all sorts of employment, from healthcare institutions to the aisles of Walmart, still face the reality of discrimination. Let’s hope that the Supreme Court rules in favor of equitable treatment of pregnant workers with thanks to Young’s perseverance for paving the way.

To support Young and the rights of pregnant workers, activists are holding a Stand With Pregnant Workers rally on the steps of the Supreme Court the day of the court hearing, followed by a virtual rally using the hashtag #StandWithPeggy.

 Photo via Shutterstock.

Corinne Gaston headshot


Corinne Gaston is currently an editorial intern at Ms. and is working toward a B.A. in Creative Writing at USC. When not in the Ms. office, she is the Associate Opinion Editor at Neon Tommy. Follow her on Twitter @elysehamsa or go to her personal blog.

Radio Raheem is still dead: A Ferguson reader

Tuesday, 25 November 2014 09:47 pm
[syndicated profile] slacktivist_feed

Posted by Fred Clark

Syreeta McFadden, “Ferguson, goddamn: No indictment for Darren Wilson is no surprise. This is why we protest”

Today, Mike Brown is still dead, and Darren Wilson has not been indicted for his murder. And who among us can say anything but: “I am not surprised”?

… The African American body is still the bellwether of the health, the promise and the problems of the American democratic experiment. The message that the Missouri grand jury has now sent to young African Americans – from Ferguson to my classroom and the rest of the world – is that black lives do not matter, that your rights and your personhood are secondary to an uneasy and negative peace, that the police have more power over your body than you do yourself.

Leonard Pitts, “Video provides evidence of our racial divide”

The shooter’s friends always feel obliged to defend him with the same tired words: “He is not a racist.”

He probably isn’t, at least not in the way they understand the term.

But what he is, is a citizen of a country where the fear of black men is downright viral. That doesn’t mean he burns crosses on the weekend. It means he’s watched television, seen a movie, used a computer, read a newspaper or magazine. It means he is alive and aware in a nation where one is taught from birth that thug equals black, suspect equals black, danger equals black.

Thus has it been since the days of chains, since the days of lynch law, since the days newspapers routinely ran headlines like “Helpless Co-Ed Ravished by Black Brute.” It is the water we drink and the air we breathe, a perception out of all proportion to any objective reality, yet it infiltrates the collective subconscious to such an unholy degree that even black men fear black men.

The Groubert video offers an unusually stark image of that fear in action. Viewing it, it seems clear the trooper is not reacting to anything Jones does. In a very real sense, he doesn’t even see him. No, he is reacting to a primal fear of what Jones is, to outsized expectations of what Jones might do, to terrors buried so deep in his breast, he probably doesn’t even know they’re there.

Screen shot 2014-11-25 at 3.20.24 PM

Ezra Klein, “Officer Darren Wilson’s story is unbelievable. Literally.”

Every bullshit detector in me went off when I read that passage. Which doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen exactly the way Wilson describes. But it is, again, hard to imagine. Brown, an 18-year-old kid holding stolen goods, decides to attack a cop and, while attacking him, stops, hands his stolen goods to his friend, and then returns to the beatdown. It reads less like something a human would do and more like a moment meant to connect Brown to the robbery.

Chauncey DeVega, “White Supremacy in Action”

In all, Darren Wilson did his job when he killed Michael Brown. The historic and contemporary role of police in America is to manage, control, kill, and intimidate black folks, brown folks, and the poor.

The grand jury’s decision that there is no “probable cause” to indict Darren Wilson is an apt summation of how black life is cheap in America, and a white cop who kills a black person is acting in the grand and long tradition of white supremacy and white on black and brown police violence in the United States.


 Zandar, “Worth More Than 1,000 Words, Worth Less Than Zero”

This is the system that this morning I am being told I have to “trust” and “put my faith in.” The one that was never meant to protect anyone who looks like me. The system that allowed Darren Wilson to walk, and arranged a public shaming of the victim and his family in a strange tirade where the county prosecutor defended the officer accused of killing an unarmed black man and ripped into the eyewitnesses as being anything but credible. The system that decided that 8 PM local time was the best time to announce the decision after supposedly sitting on that decision for a weekend. The system that took over 100 days to determine that there was no evidence worthy of even sending this case to trial. The system in that photo above, I am being told, I have to “believe in”.

You will excuse me if I withhold that benefit of the doubt.  In his testimony, Wilson, a 6’4″ man, referred to Mike Brown as “it”, and “a demon.” He wasn’t human. He was a thing, and there’s no penalty for shooting a thing and so this thing was shot time and time again because it had to be put down, a monster, a beast, a nightmare made flesh.

Jamelle Bouie, “Justifying Homicide”

Which is to say this: It would have been powerful to see charges filed against Darren Wilson. At the same time, actual justice for Michael Brown — a world in which young men like Michael Brown can’t be gunned down without consequences — won’t come from the criminal justice system. Our courts and juries aren’t impartial arbiters — they exist inside society, not outside of it — and they can only provide as much justice as society is willing to give.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a society that gives dignity and respect to people like Michael Brown and John Crawford and Rekia Boyd. Instead, we’ve organized our country to deny it wherever possible, through negative stereotypes of criminality, through segregation and neglect, and through the spectacle we see in Ferguson and the greater St. Louis area, where police are empowered to terrorize without consequence, and residents are condemned and attacked when they try to resist.

Screen shot 2014-11-25 at 4.21.16 PM

Martin Luther King Jr., in The Other America, 1968

It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.

See also:

• St. Louis Public Radio: “Evidence released by McCulloch”

• Ryan Devereaux, “‘Downright Outright Murder’: A Complete Guide to the Shooting of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson”

• Jelani Cobb, “Chronicle of a Riot Foretold”

• Ramelia Williams, “Until Lynching Becomes Personal”

• Bill Lindsey, “After Ferguson Verdict, I Remember My City’s Last Lynching”

• David Feige, “The Independent Grand Jury That Wasn’t”

• Doktor Zoom, “Darren Wilson Pretty Sure Mike Brown Had Mutant Supervillain Powers”

• Max Fisher, “How we’d cover Ferguson if it happened in another country”

[syndicated profile] ms_magazine_feed

Posted by Anita Little

9960065315_ec52c041c3It looks like Marissa Alexander, the Florida mother of three whose criminal case has made national headlines, will not have to go to trial after taking a plea deal. She plead guilty to three counts of aggravated assault with a weapon and was given a three-year sentence, but since she has already served 1,030 days, that means she will be eligible for release on Jan. 27.

Alexander rallied anti-domestic violence activists in 2012 when she was sentenced to 20 years for firing what she called a warning shot into a wall to scare her abusive estranged husband, Rico Gray, during a domestic violence dispute. Gray had already been arrested twice for domestic battery and was on probation. No one was hurt in the incident, but the jury convicted Alexander after just 12 minutes of deliberation.

Alexander invoked Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law in her defense, because she believed if she hadn’t fired the warning shot Gray would have killed her, but the 1st District Court of Appeal denied her claim. As this happened in the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin killing, Florida’s legal system drew much criticism from social-justice advocates for what they believe was an inconsistent application of Stand Your Ground, which had an effect on the acquittal of Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman. The contrast of Alexander’s conviction with the Zimmerman verdict highlighted how the justice system is often skewed against black defendants, with blacks more likely to be convicted and more likely to have longer prison stays.

Alexander isn’t completely out of the legal woods yet; there is a second count against her, referred to as an “open plea.” This second count could still result in a five-year sentence at a hearing on the day she’s scheduled to be released.

Photo of Marissa Alexander from Flickr user Abayomi Azikiwe under license from Creative Commons 2.0.



Anita Little is the associate editor at Ms. magazine. Follow her on Twitter.



“Safety” is a Piss-Poor Pitch for Chastity

Tuesday, 25 November 2014 07:18 pm
[syndicated profile] unequally_yoked_feed

Posted by Leah Libresco

A recent First Things post aimed to arm its readers with a positive case for chastity, one that could appeal to non-Christian friends.  But I struggled to find anything positive or invigorating in the sample arguments presented.  For example: A case at University of Houston may serve. According to a legal complaint filed in U.S. District Court, the [Read More...]

Chasing the ‘Christian vote’

Tuesday, 25 November 2014 07:32 pm
[syndicated profile] emergentvillage_feed

Posted by Steve Hollinghurst

November saw the mid-term elections in the US and the Rochester by-election here in the UK. in both cases the subject of Christian voting has surfaced. This is no surprise in the US, the Christian vote has been a factor for a while and this has been highly organised when it comes to a right [Read More...]
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