Under the moon.

There is always something to mourn these days. In 36 hours in New Orleans this week, two Black trans women were murdered for having the audacity to proclaim to the world that their lives, on their terms, demanded to be seen, loved, and cherished. Over and over again, we fail to see, and if we finally do, we fail to love and cherish. And now that we have a federal government that acts in accordance with the belief that trans kids don’t need or deserve protection, what can we possibly do to create a world where all trans people, but especially trans women of color, live full, safe, and healthy lives?

Sometimes it feels like donating to an organization is a surface-level solution (and indeed, it’s incomplete), but considering that trans people are more than twice as likely than the general population to live in poverty, moving money is a crucial start. The Trans Women of Color Collective (TWOCC), the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and Youth Breakout (which is based in New Orleans) are three organizations I recommend familiarizing yourself with, though there are many more.

Less often now does it feel like there’s much to celebrate, but this week there was a little something. A $1.5 million movie about a queer Black boy navigating the constraints of masculinity, the ravages of poverty and trauma, and the fragile but fruitful possibility of loving another person took home the Academy Award for Best Picture (and Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay). Moonlight  is the first movie with an all-Black cast and the first movie centered on the experience of a queer person to win the top prize. I don’t want to overstate what this win means in terms of “progress” in Hollywood, but I do believe that getting closer to a world in which pop culture tells the story of the U.S. as it actually is, and not solely how it exists in the white racial imaginary, is an important and necessary step toward artistic justice.

You can rent or buy Moonlight on Amazon if it’s not currently playing in a theater near you.

And now, onward.


Trying a different format this week, cribbed from all my favorite newsletters. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Attention liberals: free speech doesn’t entitle you a platform, especially when that platform is giant and lucrative. When tolerance is a paradox. Mapping the Appalachian Trail, using Black literature. Warsan Shire and Beyoncé are the artistic superheroes we need. Behind every great woman is…another woman. Oceti Sakowin camp comes down, but Standing Rock still stands. Civics needs a serious comeback, and what it means to take education into your own hands. White men do not use their power for good, but they do use it for: manufacturing terror, exploiting social malaise, and monopolizing the internet. Inhumanity depends on ordinary Americans. Marriage will not cure wealth disparities for families of color. Planned Parenthood–and women’s health in general–is in great peril. The dark edge of reason. “I was a Muslim in trump’s White House.”


If you’ve never really “gotten” Prince, Anil Dash has you covered.

My mom learned about Gil Scott Heron this week. His whole body of work is relevant as ever, but this week we were struck in particular by “Whitey On the Moon.”


The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater pays homage to Moonlight.

I really liked the Netflix reboot of “One Day at a Time” and cried multiple times while watching it, though that is also true of my experience seeing commercials for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” so take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Until next time.



To breathe free.

This post has been a little while coming. Like many of us, I suspect, I’ve been filled with a frenetic, unfocused energy for the past few weeks. It feels like trying to put out a house fire with a bucket, except the house is the whole world and the bucket is a thimble. Sometimes I consider, if it feels this exhausting to merely keep abreast of the news coming down the pike, what will it feel like when everything truly begins to unravel? For so many people, living in the United States is and always has been a constant unraveling. Where do they turn when the spinning gets out of control? What does shelter from the storm look like, and how can we build more safe harbors where the huddled masses yearning to breathe free (to breathe at all) show up at the door with nothing to prove, no one to answer to? Where being human is always already enough?

I’ve long considered the work of social justice to be two-fold. Fight the bitter, divisive violence of oppression, and build structures that support the kind of world we actually want to inhabit. It seems to me that much of the new left has been focused for too long on the first line of defense, though not without reason. The opposition is steady, patient, and singularly focused on one goal: the consolidation of power and resources in the hands of the few by whatever means necessary. They are not interested in building or creation. Destruction is faster, cheaper, and more effective because it leaves the rest of us scrambling to claim whatever piece of the wreckage provides some semblance of security, of familiarity. It keeps us distracted from the long slog of putting together something new. As the adage goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it sure did burn in one (well, six).

A good friend of mine recently sent me a tarot deck. I’ve had my tarot read several times in the past, but I’d never tried my hand at reading the cards myself until a few days ago. The book she sent to accompany the deck suggested diving in, familiarizing oneself with the cards, and getting comfortable with the storytelling that comprises the heart of tarot’s utility. As I was playing around with the cards for the first time, I asked the question weighing most heavily on my mind: what do I need to foster, nurture, and encourage to face the new political reality?

The first card, Seven of Cups (reversed), signifies anxiety in the face of a powerful adversary. Looking at the card, I saw chalices brimming with all sorts of things, some positive and some negative, upturned and spilling their contents as an onlooker merely beholds the spectacle from the shadows. It was a perfect metaphor for my general mental state — overwhelmed by the onslaught of horrible federal policies and state-sponsored violence, and unsure where to place myself in the context of the efforts to resist.

That’s where The Magician comes in. In this context, magic is less about illusion and more about that wonderful alchemy of creating a whole greater than the sum of its parts. How do we make the best use of our emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical power as individuals, and come together to build collective power? The Magician calls for adaptability, cunning, wit, and concerted effort to translate ideas into reality. This is the card that demands that we build, even and especially when the world is turned upside down.

The Hermit (reversed) reminds us of the value of stepping back from the endless, out of control news spiral, to the extent that we can, to reaffirm and recommit to what we believe in. To me, when reversed, The Hermit looks like he’s staring directly into his lantern, rather than past it to the path ahead. This suggests a need to focus anew on what guides us, whether the tools we use to propel ourselves forward are up to the task. What is the promise that lights our way to a better future? Does it need rekindling? It’s not lost on me that The Hermit bears striking resemblance to Lady Liberty, and her promise is currently being torn asunder. Now more than ever is a time to summon our greatest assets to make magic together, guided by the notion that the world we envision, where everyone breathes free, is a beacon and not a mirage.


Did you know that the Bronx–home to 1.4 million people–doesn’t have any bookstores? This Afrolatina is trying to fix that, and she needs donations to make it happen.


In times of distress, I often turn to writers to make sense of the mess we find ourselves in. Language is a powerful tool for laying bare the stark realities of oppression and inequality, while simultaneously creating new possibilities for being in community with one another and plotting a road map for the journey that lies ahead. A lot of the pieces I’ve linked to this week consider the role of language, lip service, and words-into-action in the context of regimes new and old, and how we might get ourselves on the same page to forge onward.

Lessons on language from Eastern Europe, during the pre- and post-Soviet eras:

On giving a lucrative platform to white supremacists under the guise of “free speech”:

On being forced to leave, and come to, the United States:

On talking about what we’re really talking about:

And finally, #BlackWomenDidThat:


If you’ve been waiting for the featured artist on Solange’s “Don’t Touch My Hair” to drop his LP (!), the day has arrived. Time to listen to Sampha’s Process.

If you love The Internet but were secretly yearning for a solo album, that day has also arrived. Check out SYD’s Fin.

If you thought “Consideration” was the sleeper hit on Rihanna’s ANTI, then put on SZA’s newest single, “Drew Barrymore.”


In 1988, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played a concert in East Berlin to a crowd of approximately 300,000 people. Springsteen delivered a shaky speech in German calling for the wall to come down, 16 months before it actually happened. Then, as now, there is no place for walls between countries, families, people. Here, they perform Bob Dylan’s “Chimes of Freedom.”

Nationalism Is Strange and Unnatural, a graphic essay by Thi Bui

And because we could all use some comic relief, crank up your oven and get your Totinos ready.

Until next time, y’all.