Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician. Her work has been published in Honeysuckle Magazine, Lilith Magazine, Catalyst, and Untapped Cities. She graduated from Barnard College in 2019 and lives in Brooklyn.
Dall-E Mini, the AI-powered text-to-image generator has taken over the internet. With its ability to render nearly anything your meme-loving heart desires, anyone can make their dreams come true.
DALL-E 2, a portmanteau of Salvador Dali, the surrealist and Wall-E, the Pixar robot, was created by OpenAI and is not widely available; it creates far cleaner imagery and was recently used to launch Cosmpolitan’s first AI-generated cover. The art world has been one of the first industries to truly embrace AI.
The open-sourced miniature version is what’s responsible for the memes. Programmer Boris Dayma wants to make AI more accessible; he built the Dall-E Mini program as part of a competition held by Google and an AI community called Hugging Face.
And with great technology, comes great memes. Typing a short phrase into Dall-E Mini will manifest 9 different amalgamations, theoretically shaping into reality the strange images you’ve conjured. Its popularity leads to too much traffic, often resulting in an error that can be fixed by refreshing the page or trying again later.
If you want to be a part of the creation of AI-powered engines, it all starts with code. CodeAcademy explains that Dall-E Mini is a seq2seq model, “typically used in natural language processing (NLP) for things like translation and conversational modeling.” CodeAcademy’s Text Generation course will teach you how to utilize seq2seq, but they also offer opportunities to learn 14+ coding languages at your own pace.
You can choose the Machine Learning Specialist career path if you want to become a Data Scientist who develops these types of programs, but you can also choose courses by language, subject (what is cybersecurity?) or even skill - build a website with HTML, CSS, and more.
CodeAcademy offers many classes for free as well as a free trial; it’s an invaluable resource for giving people of all experience levels the fundamentals they need to build the world they want to see.
As for Dall-E Mini, while some have opted to create beauty, most have opted for memes. Here are some of the internet’s favorites:
no fuck every other dall-e image ive made this one is the best yet pic.twitter.com/iuFNm4UTUM
— bri (@takoyamas) June 10, 2022
There’s no looking back now, not once you’ve seen Pugachu; artificial intelligence is here to stay.
This article contains mentions of graphic sexual assault, abuse, and murder.
Five years ago, a pregnant 14-year-old girl named Chiara Perez was killed in Argentina. Her death sparked a movement that has been referred to as the Latin American #MeToo.
#NiUnaMenos (Not One More) is a sweeping protest movement against murder and violence against women that brought thousands of women to the streets all across South America. Often, protestors employ theatrical techniques to make sure their messages are being heard.
One of the more famous performances to stem from the protests is a song created by Las Tesis, a quartet of women who used feminist theory to craft the perfect outcry against the epidemic that is violence against women. Their song, "Un Violador en Tu Camino (A Rapist in Your Path)," has since been performed in demonstrations everywhere from India to the United States.
CHILE: Rapist In Your Way [Un violador en tu camino] Las Tesis strong chant on police rape, HR abuse www.youtube.com
The song's lyrics are powerful, a direct protest against the idea that individual women are at fault for systemic violence. They have since become a rallying cry across the globe.
"The rapist is you / It's the cops / The judges / The state / The president," its lyrics read. "And it's not my fault / nor where I was / nor what I wore."
Action Rooted in Theory
The song, which directly targets political systems like the police and the state and links them to wider issues of violence against women, is inspired by the work of Argentinian feminist theorist Rita Segato. In her research, Segato sees violence against women as a political issue built into the frameworks that dictate vast power structures.
"Masculinity rules by means of a primal and permanent pedagogy," Segato writes in "A Manifesto in Four Themes," an abridged version of the introduction of her book La guerra contra las mujeres. "It teaches the expropriation of value and consequent domination...This violence perfectly expresses the ascendancy of a world of ownership or indeed lordship, a new form of domination resulting from the acceleration of the concentration and expansion of a para-state sphere of control over life. In these crimes, capital in its contemporary form expresses the existence of an order ruled by arbitrary patriarchal impulse and exhibits the spectacle."
In short, violence against women (as well as, one might say, marginalized groups, the poor, and the Earth) is a direct consequence of a patriarchal system that uses ownership as its means of maintaining power and capital as its means of self-expression. Therefore, addressing the problem also means addressing the entire system that maintains it.
It's classic feminist theory, but for women who have to deal with violence day in and day out, it's more than analysis — it's a pathway to liberation.
For Las Tesis, it was also the inspiration for a song. Based in Valparaíso, the Las Tesis Collective describes themselves as a "feminist artistic group performing in Chile." Since the release of "A Rapist in Your Path," they have collaborated with Russian feminist group Pussy Riot on a protest song that condemns police violence against women in Latin America and addresses the stunning global spike in domestic violence that has occurred since the onset of the pandemic.
They were also investigated by the Chilean government on the basis of "intimidation against the police," though the charges were dropped in January.
A Song Goes Viral and Speaks to a Global Problem
Their song's global impact can't be understated. "Las Tesis has been key in denouncing police violence and violence against women in Chile... their song has become a symbol of the universal demand of women to be able to live a life free of violence," UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteurs said.
The song's performances are often theatrical, involving movements that specifically target the song's subjects. For example, the song is about how state institutions turn a blind eye to violence against women, so dancers often wear blindfolds. The blindfolds also reference eye injuries suffered by many protestors during the 2019 Chilean protests, as well as the blindfolds that victims of torture have been forced to wear in Pinochet-era Chile and horrific modern abuse committed by the Chilean police.
In addition, performers often use a series of three squats, referencing the positions women are forced to take by police when arrested in Chile, and wear red handprints over their mouths. Every move, every line, is laden with symbolism, and none of it is f**king around.
The song has been performed across the world, to varying responses. In India, performers faced water cannons as they chanted the song. In New York, protestors sang the song outside the trial of Harvey Weinstein. In Bogotá, Colombia, feminist journalists changed the lyrics of the song to reference femicide.
'The Rapist Is You!': Women Flash Mob Protests Outside Harvey Weinstein Courthouse | NBC News www.youtube.com
The song's amorphousness, its ability to mold to fit different types of violence against women, speaks both to the genius of the lyrics and also to the fact that all across the world, violence against women is state-sanctioned and legitimized by power structures at hand.
The song comes to mind yet again in light of Sarah Everard's murder. Everard was killed by a police officer while walking home in London, and her death sparked a global outcry. Though the circumstances of her death were different from those that originally inspired the song, its lyrics still contain a biting truth. Again, a person in power — in this case, a policeman — was the source of violence. Again, an entire system conspired to let this happen.
A Shadow Pandemic
While Everard's murder was widely publicized and politicized, many of the places where "Un Violador en Tu Camino" has been performed have long been plagued by extreme, unnoticed violence against women and frequent "disappearances" of women who are never found. For example, almost 1,200 women disappeared in Peru between March and June 2020; and in Brazil, 143 women were murdered over the same period.
It's impossible to find accurate statistics on the rates of femicide in some countries, where these crimes against women are often denied or never reported, but some studies estimate that in El Salvador 6 out of every 100,000 women are murdered. These murders are usually preceded by domestic abuse.
These statistics are, in turn, part of a much larger global issue — a pattern, if you will, or perhaps a system. According to UN data, "1 in 3 women experiences violence in her lifetime. A study conducted between 2010 and 2018 painted a horrifying picture," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters. "An estimated 736 million women — almost one in three women globally — have suffered intimate partner violence, sexual violence from a non-partner — or both — at least once in their lives."
बलात्कारी हो तुम [The Rapist Is You] Chilean protest song in Hindi for #Hathras www.youtube.com
Domestic violence has always been common, but it has spiked during the pandemic— and we may never know how much, but a study from the British Medical Journal theorized that it has doubled in some countries.
Few women receive adequate responses to the violence even when they come forward, which many do or cannot for various reasons. For example, in Chile, 42 cases of sexual abuse are reported to the police each day; but in 2018, only 25.7% of sexual abuse cases led to judicial rulings. Women are frequently blamed for their assaults based on their actions, as opposed to any form of accountability.
"In the Chilean judicial system, stereotypes and biases harm women victims of sexual violence," said Bárbara Sepúlveda Hales, speaking for the feminist lawyer group Abofem. "In many trials, the life and sexual behavior of the victim is exposed as if it were a justification for the aggression they suffered."
It is difficult to locate the exact causes of this violence, which is epidemic across the world. With regards to violence against women in Latin America, researcher Lynn Marie Stephen blames it on the "region's colonial history and to a complex web of social, racial, gender and economic inequalities."
Addressing violence against women around the world is going to also take a complex, multifaceted series of responses. "Un Violador en Tu Camino (A Rapist in Your Path)" and songs like it are just the beginning of making a crack in the plague that is domestic, sexual, and state-sanctioned (or state-ignored) violence against women.
But one thing is clear: The violence is systemic. The lyrics hold back nothing. The rapist is you.
Read the lyrics to "Un Violador en Tu Camino" below:
Patriarchy is a judge
that judges us for being born,
is the violence you don't see.
Patriarchy is a judge
that judges us for being born,
is the violence you now see.
Impunity for my killer.
And it's not my fault, nor where I was, nor what I wore.
And it's not my fault, nor where I was, nor what I wore.
And it's not my fault, nor where I was, nor what I wore.
And it's not my fault, nor where I was, nor what I wore.
The rapist was you
The rapist is you.
The oppressive state is a rapist man.
The oppressive state is a rapist man.
The oppressive state is a rapist man.
The oppressive state is a rapist man.
The rapist was you
The rapist is you.
Sleep tight, innocent girl
don't worry about the criminal,
your policeman lover is taking care
of your sweet dreams.
The rapist is you.
The rapist is you.
The rapist is you.
The rapist is you.
El patriarcado es un juez
que nos juzga por nacer,
y nuestro castigo
es la violencia que no ves.
El patriarcado es un juez
que nos juzga por nacer,
y nuestro castigo
es la violencia que ya ves.
Impunidad para mi asesino.
Es la desaparición.
Es la violación.
Y la culpa no era mía, ni dónde estaba ni cómo vestía.
Y la culpa no era mía, ni dónde estaba ni cómo vestía.
Y la culpa no era mía, ni dónde estaba ni cómo vestía.
Y la culpa no era mía, ni dónde estaba ni cómo vestía.
El violador eras tú,
El violador eres tú.
Son los pacos,
El Estado opresor es un macho violador
El Estado opresor es un macho violador
El violador eras tú.
El violador eres tú.
Duerme tranquila, niña inocente
sin preocuparte del bandolero,
que por tu sueño dulce y sonriente
vela tu amante carabinero.
On Tuesday, March 16, a white male shot eight people in Atlanta, Georgia, six of whom were Asian American women.
The victims have been identified as Delaina Ashley Yuan, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Julie Park, 70s; and Hyeon Jeong Park, 50s.
The killer opened fire at a business and then at two spas in northeastern Atlanta. He was later identified by authorities, and his actions have been officially blamed on a possible "sex addiction" (which is not a real condition) that caused him to target the three businesses to eliminate "temptation." An officer also blamed the murder on the fact that he having a "really bad day," leading to further outrage.
In reality, the attacks are a violent continuation of a disturbing trend of anti-Asian hate crimes that have been devastating the United States over the past year.
That the victims were Asian women has led others to cite the frequent intersection of misogyny and anti-Asian racism that often manifests as orientalism and imperialism as a possible cause in the shooting. Regardless of the killer's conscious motivations, his actions resulted in the deaths of six people in a demographic that is already fearful and threatened, and they occur in the context of a rush of anti-AAPI hate crimes that are rocking the nation.
The reported shootings of Asian American women on Tuesday in Atlanta is an unspeakable tragedy – for the families o… https://t.co/eNt81YMPSA— Stop AAPI Hate (@Stop AAPI Hate) 1615942392.0
Six Asian American women were killed in Atlanta today. We're still learning about the motive. However, you should k… https://t.co/ddorULw8iN— Dr. Melissa May Borja (@Dr. Melissa May Borja) 1615954559.0
According to a report by Stop AAPI Hate, Asian Americans have reported nearly 3,800 hate incidents over the past year. 68% involved verbal harassment and shunning, and physical violence accounted for 11%.
This is a nearly 150% increase from 2019, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University. Some of the attacks have been deadly — an 83-year-old man named Vicha Ratanapakdee was recently murdered in San Francisco; a 91-year-old man was shoved in Oakland; a 61-year-old named Noel Quintana was slashed in the face on the NYC subway.
this caard provides a lot of articles and resources that you can read through to educate yourself on what is going… https://t.co/wTaqGHCQgf— alli*:･ﾟ (@alli*:･ﾟ) 1615992195.0
It's difficult to chronicle the actual number of hate crimes against AAPI communities, since many go unreported, but the number appears to be rising, with over 500 committed in 2021 alone.
The day before the attack, Michelle Au — Georgia's first Asian American state senator — issued a statement on the senate floor in protestation of the rising number of hate crimes. "Recognize that we need help, we need protection and we need people in power to stand up for us against hate," she said.
We’re troubleshooting @AAJA website, which is crashing from the traffic after we released guidance on covering the… https://t.co/FUkZNBz1mC— Michelle Ye Hee Lee (@Michelle Ye Hee Lee) 1616006465.0
Joe Biden has condemned the spike in hate crimes, stating, "They are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America. It's wrong, it's un-American and it must stop." Vice President Kamala Harris also spoke out about the attacks, stating that "The president and I and all of us we grieve for the loss. Our prayers are extended to the families of those who have been killed, and it speaks to a larger issue which is the issue of violence in our country and what we must do to never tolerate it and to always speak out against it."
Many blame Donald Trump's anti-Asian rhetoric and his verbal association between COVID and China for the rise in hate crimes. Despite the visible increase and this clear correlation, anti-Asian racism in America is nothing new and has a long and ugly history, though it has long gone relatively unnoticed.
According to research by Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (@A3PCON) and Chinese for Affirmative Action (… https://t.co/wxLnfiakGf— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈) 1615968009.0
With #StopAsianHate now trending on Twitter and infographics flooding Instagram, it's easy to see parallels between this movement and the Black Lives Matter movement that spiked over the summer.
Still, most groups advocate for collective solidarity against the deadly violence of white supremacy and racism, calling for people to speak out and learn about the long history and nuances of anti-AAPI racism — instead of just turning this latest horrific tragedy into an online trend.
America’s FIRST restrictive immigration law was the Page Act of 1875, effectively banning Chinese women, under the… https://t.co/9PTV6nl8RK— Mari Uyehara (@Mari Uyehara) 1615953934.0
Yes, if you're covering this, please please please ensure you understand context and history of anti-Asian violence… https://t.co/YtEvDBWhqA— Moriah Balingit (@Moriah Balingit) 1615953902.0
It's also vital to remember that sharing information and spreading awareness is only the beginning, and white people need to show solidarity rather than taking any position of white saviorship.
If you want to support the AAPI community, here are some national organizations to donate to. You can also look into local organizations supporting your immediate community.
Stop AAPI Hate is responsible for researching and responding to racism and xenophobia. They are tracking the surge in violence and sharing information with the wider world.
Stop AAPI Hate is proud to announce our latest national report, measuring anti-Asian hate incidents from March 2020… https://t.co/S1KRDFA9bw— Stop AAPI Hate (@Stop AAPI Hate) 1615915487.0
Red Canary Song is a transnational grassroots collective of Asian and migrant sex workers. They are working against police raids and deportations and believe in mutual aid and labor rights regardless of immigration status.
Hello all. In light of what happened today in Atlanta, I added @RedCanarySong to this doc list and their donation l… https://t.co/155q6TDdsV— sab•睿妍 is THEY THEM (@sab•睿妍 is THEY THEM) 1615954243.0
The Asian Mental Health Collective is working towards building a supportive community for Asians struggling with mental health. They are working to de-stigmatize mental illness and to make mental healthcare easily accessible to Asian communities worldwide.
Gofundme has created a unified fundraiser that supports multiple organizations leading in the AAPI community, including Mekong NYC, Asian Health Services , Oakland Chinatown Ambassadors Program, AAPI Women Lead, and Khmer Girls in Action. You can also support individual victims of violence through Gofundme, such as Noel Quintana, Yong Zheng, and more.
[email protected]: "As part of our Gives Back program, we’re grateful for the chance to donate to fundraisers that have to… https://t.co/aiTet7V0Vm— Asian American Federation (@Asian American Federation) 1615913043.0
The Asian Pacific Environmental Network fights against environmental racism in Asian American communities and builds power in immigrant and refugee communities.
In this moment, we must follow and support organizations on the ground in #Atlanta. Please read this statement from… https://t.co/5TpdrTmClm— APEN (@APEN) 1616003192.0
Asian Americans Advancing Justice offers legal and civil rights aid for the Asian American community. They fight for housing justice, voting rights, workers' rights, and much more.
Rise up against racism together. Call for legal and victim assistance. Tell your loved ones not to be afraid. There… https://t.co/cmtD7QeC3c— Advancing Justice-LA (@Advancing Justice-LA) 1615585190.0
The AAF is an organization dedicated to benefiting the pan-Asian community and fighting hate crimes directly through outreach, community organizing, nonprofit leadership, and advocacy.
They Can't Burn Us All is an organization organizing actions and rallies around the country in protest against hate crimes against the AAPI community.
You can also find a list of 45 organizations to donate to here.
What's happening in Washington D.C. is beyond comprehension. And yet we should have seen this coming. Many of us did.
Our elected leaders, our democracy, and the very fabric of our nation are being threatened by the current attempted coup in Washington. MAGA protestors have invaded the Capitol Building and threatened the lives of our elected representatives. They are carrying guns, and disrupting democracy. They are terrorists, and they are not being stopped.
THREAD OF PEOPLE WHO CAN HELP EVACUATE DC AND THREAD FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED HELP— professional smitty luver (@professional smitty luver) 1609966317.0
January 6 started as a triumphant morning for Democrats. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won their races in Georgia. U.S. representatives gathered in the Capitol to count Electoral College votes. Even Mitch McConnell and Mike Pence renounced Trump's continued attempts to take over democracy. It seemed like a transition of power was going to happen smoothly.
But President Trump's supporters weren't going to let that happen. Their protest started peacefully outside the Capitol, and seemed like another group of Trump supporters making their last stand.
But somehow, MAGA protestors, Proud Boys, and attendees of this so-called "Save America Rally" broke through barricades and forced their way into the Capitol Building.
Stunning scenes from the Capitol https://t.co/DN60udjDyY https://t.co/8OF1Ibi8Wy— New York Magazine (@New York Magazine) 1609965846.0
Somehow, improbably, the police and security allowed some to break into the building where our government officials — the people carefully and fairly elected to represent us all — were attempting to confirm the election of the next president.
The response to these protestors, and the inaction of the police and the National Guard, is almost unimaginably hypocritical. At Black Lives Matter protests throughout the summer, we saw teeming rows of cops circling protestors, shooting them with rubber bullets and arresting them in droves, often simply for marching.
Today, after destroying government property to break their way in, protestors appear to be walking peacefully around the Capitol, walking on the Senate floor, invading Nancy Pelosi's office, destroying property, striding over the marble floors, carrying machine guns. Members of Congress have been evacuated to secure locations.
If these had been Leftist protestors, if these had been Black and brown protestors, they would be in jail at best, or more likely shot by police.
we got tear gassed and shot at with rubber bullets for literally standing outside the georgia capitol building, lawfully, in June— Hannah Riley (@Hannah Riley) 1609963244.0
Republicans constantly claim that the Department of Homeland Security and ICE are necessary to preserve the safety of Americans and that the military requires billions to protect America. But where are these people now, as American extremists storm the Capitol?
Imagine if #BlackLivesMatter were the ones who were storming the Capitol building. Thousands of black people layin… https://t.co/F7HEldgdUJ— Van Jones (@Van Jones) 1609960841.0
What about when our own president goes against the prevailing logic of almost everyone else in positions of power and quite literally incites violence against the government? Where is the military, which is supposed to protect America, today? Where is the National Guard? Where is America?
Lost, certainly. Dead, possibly. It will take an act of magic or a miracle to revive us from this.
What we are witnessing is a collapse of massive proportions, an attempted coup that reveals the fragility of our democracy and the way Donald Trump has torn us all apart.
Currently, protestors are on the Senate floor. Members of Congress are cowering inside, calling their family members and assuring them they're alright.
A woman has been carried out on a stretcher, drenched in blood.
People are calling on the president — that insecure, unstable man — but his only responses have included tweets that demand the protestors to stay peaceful and respect the cops.
I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution by deman… https://t.co/0EtvVBfAkX— Joe Biden (@Joe Biden) 1609968000.0
I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & O… https://t.co/XWZnbZWwze— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1609964006.0
Perhaps some of Trump's supporters' delusions that he is remotely competent or sane are finally collapsing, but it is too little too late.
Let us never forget that the President urged protestors to fight. There is no logic here except the logic of a coup, except the logic of violence, except the logic of extreme greed and insanity that has always defined Trump but that has now exploded out of the woodwork and infected the minds of thousands of Americans.
There is no logic here, just the abstract soundscape of collapse. Yet no one should really be surprised. We knew that the Proud Boys were planning a boogaloo, a Civil War. The threads and the comments and the threats were all there. Time and time again, we ignored them.
We know that Trump supporters subsist on lies own media outlets. We know that they are being inundated with lies — disproven by countless lawsuits — that our election was fraudulent. We know that many of our own Republican leaders sowed these seeds, continuing to support Donald Trump as he built up his firestorm of lies and insanity.
We know that there are so many factors to blame here, a buildup in tensions from the pandemic to Black Lives Matter to Democratic victories that has exploded here today. We know that Americans are suffering and afraid, all of us.
And yet never — not in the whole summer of protests, not ever in recent American history — have we seen an unobstructed invasion like this.
On the news, the scene is horrifyingly mellow. White supremacists are walking around the Capitol, guns flying, without opposition, without election, without fact to sustain them. Everyone else is absent or cowering in fear. These people are, unforgivably, not being punished; they are being allowed to walk free.
Just to be completely clear today, pointed questions like "Where is the teargas?" or "Why don't we see more choke s… https://t.co/XIZrEdwi8b— tj usiyan (@tj usiyan) 1609961116.0
How do we even comprehend this? For now, some of us can at the very least hold fast to the fact that when Republicans criticize the "radical Left" for "violent" protests (AKA looting and damaging of empty buildings, at the most extreme), we will be able to remind them of the time when the more radical sect of their party — led by their beloved president — quite literally committed terrorism and infiltrated the Capitol and threatened our elected representatives' lives.
If we get through this, we know that we have a Democratic Congress. We must hope that in addition to addressing the pandemic, these bodies of government somehow figure out how to stop this from happening ever again.
I believe the Republican members of Congress who have incited this domestic terror attack through their attempts to… https://t.co/ZYHEboSa1i— Congresswoman Cori Bush (@Congresswoman Cori Bush) 1609967177.0
It's getting dark soon. Stay safe, stay strong, Americans. Realize that this is white supremacy knowing that it is losing power and lashing out in the way it always has — with violence, intrusion, and destruction.
Facebook, Twitter, Fox News, and rightwing talk radio have enabled this. And the mainstream media has retreated beh… https://t.co/XNcovTn4jD— Robert Reich (@Robert Reich) 1609966899.0
Realize that this is in America's blood and we are in the process of draining it out, but it won't go quietly.
Realize this is the spirit of American violence — colonialism and racism and all of their aftereffects — rearing its many ugly heads and, like a hydra, refusing to die, just growing back.
"[Trump] has never tried to put distance between him and the most violent fringe because he views their violence as… https://t.co/YX0HGZqB8B— Guernica Magazine (@Guernica Magazine) 1604689319.0
Realize that there are terrorists in America, wearing familiar faces — faces we have been taught to respect but also faces that are willing to corner our democratically elected representatives, faces that are allowed to do so and, as I write this, are still doing so.
We are somehow closer and further than ever before from actualizing the dream of America, a world where everyone can be equal.
We are on the edge of Rome burning. We are both a promise of the best of humanity and a collage of the very worst of it. We can only hope that the truth will prevail in the end.
Check out the latest episode of Crossroads Cafe.
On the latest episode of Crossroads Cafe, I spoke with Amanda Quaid, a writer, actor, voice artist, and environmental activist whose work explores the joys and challenges of living in the modern world.
Our interview happened on November 7, the day Joe Biden was officially confirmed as the winner of the 2020 election. All around NYC there was a sense of buoyancy, and you might hear people screaming with glee in the background of the recording.
Biden ran, in part, on a campaign that stood in stark contrast to his predecessor's: He promised to treat the climate crisis with the urgency it deserves.
He also promised to prioritize the people who are most often harmed by climate change, which include poor communities and communities of color who are most often subject to environmental racism that takes the form of power plants, pollution, natural disasters, and an inability to flee crisis zones.
Activists are skeptical, knowing that facing the climate crisis with the urgency it deserves will require extreme action at a scale not seen since World War II. But on the other hand, the climate movement has gained massive grounds over the past few years, as it's connected with other movements and a collective vision for social change that's taken hold of people across the globe.
As an activist with Extinction Rebellion and a writer whose work explores climate change, Quaid is part of those movements. She is, among many things, the writer of the libretto for The Extinctionist, an opera that tells the story of a woman considering the morality of whether to have children in a world where devastating climate change is a reality.
Writing about climate change—an immense and complicated topic that often feels far-removed from daily life—is a challenge, but it may be more important than ever. When asked about the intersections between storytelling and climate, Quaid referenced Paul Kingsnorth's idea that we need new stories (or perhaps very old ones) in order to reimagine and heal our relationship with the land and ourselves.
Kingsnorth, like many of the writers we referenced in this podcast, is a harsh critic of what he calls the "myth of progress."
"Probably the central story of our culture — which I think has replaced a lot of the religious stories that used to be at the heart of our culture — is the story of progress," Kingsnorth said in an interview with Emergence Magazine.
"One of the dangerous things about the story of progress is that we don't think it's a story. We think it's the truth," he said. But to continue to progress, we've been sapping our planet's resources without giving anything back. Now, we're seeing the fallout in the form of natural disasters and a lack of natural resources that will only worsen exponentially if climate change continues unchecked.
"We need new kinds of myths as a culture," Quaid said, "because the ones that we've had, that I grew up with, that there was endless progress and that had to do with technology, and that we were separate from nature — All of that is a story that we tell ourselves," she said. But she believes storytellers can be part of the change.
Storytellers determine "the kinds of stories we tell ourselves about our place in the world," she said, and stories shape "the kind of stories that we tell ourselves about what progress looks like." And of course, storytellers "[shape] people's imaginations in a way, because if you can't really imagine it, you can't work towards it."
When asked what some of these new stories and myths might look like, Quaid mentioned a change in the way we think about the place and purpose and humanity itself, a shift towards seeing ourselves as part of nature rather than separate from it. In a world where many of us are taught that we're above animals and nature, and that we must constantly make progress while extracting and accumulating as much as we can, that's an extreme shift — one that will take new languages and new narratives to actualize.
Some of the answers lie in looking outside of ourselves and our human ideas of what constitutes progress and looking to nature (and by proxy, deeper into ourselves). "Working to change the way we talk about the more-than-human world…It's difficult when we don't have the language and all of our structures are built against it," says Quaid.
But in the era of COVID-19, which has sparked radical shifts and doubts about the way our world is currently run, perhaps we have an opportunity to "wake up to the fact that we are all so interconnected and interdependent on each other," she said. "It's not a new idea, but it's something that's viscerally come to the surface for me."
Now that we can see how "our systems really aren't built to sustain or support that…not yet," as Quaid said, perhaps we can start working towards building a world that can actually sustain all of us.
Writing about climate change is, of course, no easy feat, but it can be immensely powerful. In another essay, Klingsworth describes writing as a form of magic or alchemy, which, in turn, is an almost religious path.
"Words can burn their readers through transformation into some strange new vision. They can cast a spell. They can summon things: ideas, notions, images, other worlds. Other beings," he says. "In times like these, we are all in the process of transformation, and so is the world around us. The Great Work, the magnum opus, is the work we are all engaged in, whether we know it or not."
In my interview with Quaid, we spoke about many of the people who we feel are telling the stories we need — Joanna Macy and her Work that Reconnects, the novel The Overstory, and the Indigenous peoples who have long practiced this wisdom and who are leading the way in the fight for our future.
With her plays about talking clams, her librettos about the morality of life itself, and her deep sensitivity to the nuances of living, Amanda Quaid is certainly doing her part to contribute to the Great Work of our lives and the new stories that will shape the collective futures of all life on Earth. This conversation is a window into her process.
Listen to the full conversation below:
A month-by-month review of the best and worst (mostly worst) of 2020.
2020 was a year when time lost all meaning and traditional markers of change — graduations, seasons, parties, holidays — blurred into an indistinguishable slideshow of Zoom calls.
Each month, it seemed, another unavoidable news story exploded onto the headlines, dominating attention, commanding every facet of our collective attention.
This year, each month seemed to have its own color, its own unique tune of horror that required both countless headlines and its own array of memes. As E. Alex Jung writes for Vulture, "Nothing made sense this year — unless you were on the Internet." Each catastrophic event, with its mind-blowing amounts of human suffering and its cataclysmic historical implications, took on new meaning when refracted through the mirror of social media.
So far in 2020 we have: - World War III meme - Australia’s fires - Trump impeachment - Prince Harry steps down - K… https://t.co/ZqMmUj9sWB— Nick Hinton (@Nick Hinton) 1595305835.0
In some ways, this year brought us closer together; in other ways, it tore open the last semblances of any illusion that we're all in the same struggle, instead revealing the brutal inequalities that define our society. When all faced with the same roster of calamities, it became clear that some people could suffer through while losing little save for the opportunity to go bar-hopping on Saturday nights, while others were pushed off the brink into the precipice of disaster (that is, if they hadn't already been swimming through the fetid ruins of the capitalist dream).
So, this list is not meant to be a universal summary of the way 2020 was horrifying. No list could ever summarize what 2020 or what a history of inequality and human greed has done to individuals around the world this year.
Instead, it's my reflections on the ways certain events seemed to dominate our collective consciousness in ways few events ever have before, let alone in such rapid succession.
In January, many people I knew seemed buoyed by a strange sort of optimism. The majority of New Years' Resolutions I saw involved some variant of: "In 2020 I'm putting myself first." People were set on growth, and everybody seemed convinced that 2020 would be their year. It would be the era of "2020 vision," the dawn of our own roaring '20s.
Meanwhile, China recorded its first coronavirus death on January 11th. Reports of the coronavirus were crossing the globe in whispers; a text message, a headline here and there about the strange new disease that had erupted in Wuhan.
Donald Trump was first briefed on the virus on January 18th but seemed distracted, apparently stopping the briefing to ask about a ban on vaping products.
Being 2020, the year came in hot with its own special form of chaos. Australia wildfires continued burning, ravaging over 47 million acres of land. On Jan. 3, a U.S. drone strike hit Baghdad's International Airport, killing Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and sparking rumors (and eventually, a flurry of memes) about an impending World War III.
My TikTok feed is entirely World War III memes https://t.co/zyKt9ZdwDs— Blake Montgomery (@Blake Montgomery) 1578113712.0
Later that month, we tragically lost Kobe Bryant and his daughter. Considering this calamitous beginning, the idea that 2020 was going to be the year of our personal self-growth, a year where we'd prioritize ourselves and evolve into our final forms, feels achingly misguided. None of us knew what was coming next.
Shakira & J. Lo's FULL Pepsi Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show www.youtube.com
Yet all around the world, things were falling apart. Coronavirus was spreading around the world at this point; Europe counted its first death, and Africa saw its first case.
Georgia senator Kelly Loeffler and other members of the 1% began selling millions of dollars worth of stocks after becoming aware of COVID-19, a theme that would continue as billionaires would get progressively richer throughout the pandemic. In yet another blitz of foreshadowing, the Iowa caucuses were a complete disaster after a faulty app led to months-long recounts.
All of 2020 was surreal, but March may have been the most surreal month of all. Italy saw its "darkest hour" and imposed the world's first lockdown. France prepared for what its prime minister described as an impending "war."
In March, it felt like the ground was dropping out from under our feet. On March 9, the Dow Jones suffered its worst single-day drop ever. By mid-March, the whole world had shut down; citizens were ordered to stay home everywhere from India to Australia. Offices closed. Broadway shut down.
On March 20, Tiger King dropped on Netflix and immediately went incandescently viral. Dua Lipa dropped her album Future Nostalgia. In New York, people started buying beans and hoarding toilet paper. Everyone started baking bread.
Pandemic fads: Tiger King memes, peloton, getting a dog, picnicing, political activism, sourdough bread, tik tok da… https://t.co/3Bj2lc908k— Ian (@Ian) 1607482964.0
By April, it became universally clear that coronavirus was not going anywhere anytime soon. The world went into lockdown and global cases passed 1 million.
In May, things seemed to reach a brief impasse, and 2020 stood on the precipice of a (somehow even more dramatic) part II.
A plane fell in Pakistan, killing 97. Costa Rica became the first Central American nation to legalize gay marriage. Nasa-SpaceX's shuttle took to the skies. Armed protestors stormed Michigan's state capital demanding haircuts in May. Grimes gave birth to Elon Musk's cyborgian baby.
One story dominated all: At the end of May, the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer took place, sparking immediate protests.
In June, America was overcome by racial justice protests in response to George Floyd's murder. The Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S. became the nation's largest movement in its history. Protests spread around the globe, and statues of racists fell.
Meanwhile, coronavirus surged; an oil spill sparked a state of emergency in Russia; temperatures in the Arctic reached their highest points ever; locusts invaded India.
The apocalypse was in full-swing, as were dreams of a much better, radically different world.
Remember that black square you posted on Instagram? They’re still killing us, so what’s next?— Natasha Rothwell (@Natasha Rothwell) 1607644189.0
The heat, the intensity, the wildness of July is something I'll never forget as long as I live. Brooklyn was rocked by constant fireworks that rang out all night long, sparking conspiracy theories about government plots.
August saw another wave of BLM protests after Jacob Blake was shot in Kenosha, Wisconsin and paralyzed from the waist down.
It was also a month of terrible tragedy. We lost Chadwick Boseman. Wildfires exploded across California, turning the sky an apocalyptic orange. A cataclysmic explosion racked Beirut.
Cardi B - WAP feat. Megan Thee Stallion [Official Music Video] www.youtube.com
September, of course, offered no relief. We lost Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18th, a devastating loss for Democrats. Then, all of America cringed watching Biden and Trump try to bridge the parallel universes they both existed in at their first debate.
In October, all eyes were on yet another world-changing event — the 2020 election. Of course, the road was not smooth. Trump announced he had COVID-19 on October 2nd. Early voting started in mid-October, with record numbers of people turning out to the polls.
Unrest continued, with anti-lockdown protests in Brooklyn and BLM protests continuing across the US. Amy Coney Barrett was announced as Trump's supreme court nominee, a radical departure from RBG's legacy of equality.
In November, we held our breath and fixed our attention on Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and other states that seemed to be counting ballots in slow-motion. On the 7th, finally, CNN called Biden's victory. New Yorkers and people around the world erupted into cheers.
But we barely had a moment to catch our breath. Cases began to surge in the US, which started reporting 130,000 cases per day, reaching 200,000 by the end of the month. Much of Europe locked down again. Many suffered from pandemic fatigue.
In November, Pfizer and Moderna announced, in quick succession, that their vaccines were ready for global dissemination (with a little help from Dolly Parton). Weird monoliths began popping up in odd locations. Amidst the terror, there were flashes of hope.
CNN's Van Jones brought to tears as Joe Biden wins US election www.youtube.com
Now it's December. Trump continues to contest his loss, and The Proud Boys rally in the streets. In India, 250 million are on strike, forming a labor movement epic in scale.
On December 14th, the Electoral College voted and Joe Biden was officially confirmed (for the millionth time, it seems) as 46th president of the United States.
It's been an unbelievably chaotic year, full of ups and downs. We saw darkness and terror and our fellow citizens and family members in lights we never imagined.
We saw people pushed to the brink. We also saw people gathering together to take care of each other as the government and systems meant to keep us safe collapsed around us. And we saw, sometimes, hints of a new world among the raging fires.
Taylor Swift - Love Story 2020 (Snippet) - Ryan Reynolds Commercial for "Match" www.youtube.com
Let's hope that 2021 is better, that there's a renaissance in art and a resurgence of social programs after this catastrophe. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it's that we can't predict anything — and things can always get worse — but it's always better if we take it on together.
Here's to a happy and safe New Year and a much better 2021.
Let us know what we left out on this list on Twitter @Popdust.
The signs are everywhere, and we just keep on missing them.
An 87-year-old former space security chief has come forward with a statement about aliens being real. Professor Haim Eshed isn't just any aspiring prophet — he served as the head of the Israeli space security program for over 30 years, and thrice received Israel's Security Award.
According to Eshed, there is a coalition of aliens known as the Galactic Federation, who have traveled to our solar system to conduct experiments and to understand the "fabric of the universe," in his words. Eshed also said that the aliens worked with the United States of America to establish an underground base on Mars.
"They, too, are exploring and trying to understand the entire structure of the universe, and they want us to be their helpers. In the bowels of Mars, there is an underground base where their representatives, as well as American astronauts, are located," said Eshed.
Professor Haim Eshed
Apparently, the aliens don't think we humans on Earth are ready for them quite yet, and so have asked to be kept a secret. "Those who fly on UFOs have asked not to disclose that they are here because humanity is not ready yet," said Eshed in an interview with Israel's Yediot Aharonot newspaper.
Of course, one particular world leader nearly ruined it all. "Trump was on the verge of revealing their existence, but aliens from the Galactic Federation persuaded him to wait until people calm down," he continued. "They don't want to create mass hysteria. They first want us to become reasonable and understanding."
It's a little late to avoid mass hysteria on Earth, and we as a species seem as far away from any semblance of reasonableness and understanding as we have ever been. If Trump had actually announced that aliens are real, his supporters—many of whom believe that Trump won the election, QAnon is real, and COVID-19 is fake — might be some of the most likely people on Earth to believe in extraterrestrials.
It's easy to see how his announcing that aliens exist might trigger some sort of mass hysteria; though on the other hand, Americans are so overwhelmed right now that perhaps we would have just brushed it off.
Apparently, America is very much involved with aliens — which makes sense, because the USA is continuously the site of the most alien encounters in the world. "There is an agreement between the US government and aliens. They signed a contract with aliens to conduct experiments here," said Eshed.
It seems like we all have to get a bit better at understanding science before the aliens grace us with their presence. "They are waiting for humanity to develop and reach the stage where we fully understand what space and spaceships are," said Eshed. Perhaps he could add understanding how disease, climate change, and politics work.
Regardless, Eshed knows that his claims will be met with doubt. "If I had told what I am saying today, five years ago, I would have been hospitalized," said Eshed. "Wherever I went with this in academia, they would tell me: This man has lost his mind. Today they speak differently. I have nothing to lose. I have received degrees and awards, I am respected in foreign universities, where the trend is also changing."
Eshed is far from the first person to claim that aliens are real and that he's encountered them. But his statements have something in common with many other stories about aliens: There's no proof to back up anything that he's said.
Either the Galactic Federation is really good at covering its tracks, or a whole lot of people are willing to believe in things they cannot see — and after this year, we know the second part is true.
In this year of shared delusions, invisible viruses, and ever-more-apocalyptic weather, the increasing number of headlines we're seeing about aliens is unsurprising. People have always been drawn to conspiracy theories (and to, dare I say, religions) in times of stress and darkness; when the road ahead disappears and we're left falling into nothingness and uncertainty, that's when we start seeing little lights and reading signals from beyond.
Whether or not these signals are real is always a matter of debate. But perhaps the Galactic Federation is simply waiting until we reach the next stage of our collective evolution to reveal its existence to us all. It's likely that, given the state of humanity today, this will take a long time.
Eshed's claims have sparked several social media parodies, including several accounts pretending to be the Galactic Federation.
The #GalacticFederation has been watching your species for a long while. We cannot admit the human species, but due… https://t.co/NkqSwo6Uym— Galactic Federation Official (@Galactic Federation Official) 1607387401.0
Galactic federation? Aliens? This meme really came true #aliens #GalacticFederation https://t.co/eEOnkM58y1— Ali (@Ali) 1607437982.0
Galactic Federation? Nah fam, I’m pretty sure this is how the aliens feel about us https://t.co/MJlvhKWcYY— Dikembe Mutumbhoe™️ (@Dikembe Mutumbhoe™️) 1607431570.0
humans: can we meet the aliens yet the galactic federation: https://t.co/bGNuWZQc5B— kendalorian 🪄 (@kendalorian 🪄) 1607391160.0
Please let the season finale reveal of 2020 be that Dolly Parton has been the High Chancellor of the Galactic Federation all along 🙏— 🎄hard cAndy christMientus ❄️ (@🎄hard cAndy christMientus ❄️) 1607441020.0
The aliens in their galactic federation meeting doing their monthly check up on earth: https://t.co/0FpJPFv1xN— Santa Sky❄️☃️| ALIENS EXIST (@Santa Sky❄️☃️| ALIENS EXIST) 1607401579.0
Biden's new website is...nice.
It's been said many times: Leaving Trump behind feels like emerging from an abusive relationship, or perhaps renewing one's relationship with a former BFF (America) after she leaves her sh*tty man.
After all, Trump is a classic abuser. He gaslights, he lies, he cheats, and he is leaving behind an America with 200,000 people dead and more dying every day. He never admits his mistakes, creating a vicious cycle wherein he does something atrocious, gets a tan, and then shows up smiling with flowers (or in his case, a last-minute attempt to curry favor with the Black community by befriending several aging rappers).
Many Americans are still under his spell, and there's not much a lot of us can do about it. People in abusive relationships are often in denial about what's happening to them, and they often won't leave until they decide to. Shaming someone in an abusive relationship is rarely an effective way to get them out of it, as they've likely already been shamed many times.
Concerned friends and family can get into as many Facebook arguments with Trumpets as we want, but until they decide they deserve better and it's time to leave, there's really not too much we can do for them. All we can do is offer a safe place where they can run to, should they choose to escape. (Of course, we must remember that many Trumpers can be abusive as well).
Anyway, all this is to say that now we're finally kicking Trump out. America, we have decided to free ourselves. And we have the next few months to prepare for a new man to move in: Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.
Settling for Joe, Dreaming of Bernie
I know I'm not alone in saying that Joe Biden isn't my dream man. For a long time, I was hoping that Bernie Sanders would sweep me off my feet on an elderly white horse, a joint billowing from his hand. He would take me to the hospital where I would finally get my wisdom teeth removed for free thanks to Medicare For All, and then we would go to Jeff Bezos's house, demand a few billion dollars (just hand it over, Jeff, it'll save you a lot of time in court), and make a couple large donations to community organizers.
But alas, that was always a fantasy—and much like my childhood fantasy of dating Joe Jonas during his Camp Rock years, some things are simply not meant to be.
Now we have Joe Biden. I still don't know all that much about the man, relatively speaking, but I know he's not nearly as dangerous as Donald Trump. When I heard he was the nominee, I thought that if anything, he might just be a do-nothing type of politician who would have to be bullied by mass movements into taking any sort of action at all.
But at least, I hoped, he would clean up some of the mess Trump made during one of his many fits of rage. At least there would be no more 5 AM tweet storms. At least his gang of weird friends from Fox News would stop stealing from my fridge and destroying America's stature in the rest of the world's eyes.
View this post on InstagramUsually wouldn't post in between seasons but was just so proud of the whole team ❤️
A post shared by Jordan Firstman (@jtfirstman) on Oct 7, 2020 at 9:45pm PDT
The website looks...nice. It's been so long since a political platform showed up wearing a suit and holding flowers instead of brandishing a gun at me and threatening to demolish gay rights.
Scrolling through, I actually agree with most of what the website says. I mean, first of all, there's the COVID-19 plan. A COVID plan. A plan! It's not an Elizabeth Warren-level plan, sure, but it's still an actual plan with steps.
Trump had no plan. If anything, his plan was to keep golfing as he let COVID-19 keep raging across the country. States across the nation probably would've shut down again, over and over again each winter for years, because not every state is willing to just...let everyone catch COVID-19. This disease would have continued for another four years to forever. The death toll, the overcrowded hospitals…The nightmare would have gone on, and on, and on.
It's unclear as to whether Joe Biden will effectively stop COVID-19, but dammit, it's nice to know there is a plan–one that's comprised of actual words, to boot.
It's also incredibly relieving to hear someone say they will "ensure public health decisions are informed by public health professionals." This is like if you were dating some guy who's willing to let you lie on the couch bleeding out because he didn't feel like driving you to the ER, but then Joe Biden popped in and said the Uber is on its way. (Yeah, we can't quite expect affordable ambulances with a Biden healthcare plan, but I'll take what I can get).
Biden has promised to set up a Pandemic Testing Board and a U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps to mobilize community contract tracing. He's going to use the Defense Production Act. He's going to call on Congress to pass an emergency relief package and a "restart package" that helps businesses cover COVID-19 related costs. He's going to build infrastructure to prevent future pandemic threats. He's going to fund schools and small businesses.
And, incredibly, Biden's COVID-19 plan involves science. (How beautiful it is to hear that word: "science"...used correctly…)
I've always had a type, and that type is musicians and/or climate activists. I didn't think Joe Biden was either, but his climate plan is music to my ears.
Biden knows climate change is an existential threat. He knows that the "current COVID-19 pandemic reminds us how profoundly the energy and environmental policy decisions of the past have failed communities" and "at this moment of profound crisis, we have the opportunity to build a more resilient, sustainable economy—one that will put the United States on an irreversible path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, by no later than 2050."
An irreversible path to net-zero emissions. Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord—and vamping them up. Creating millions of green jobs. Environmental Justice. Talk. Clean. Energy. To. Me.
True, these are fairly logical, necessary steps to that must be taken if we are to combat climate change, the paramount existential threat of our time, and it will take even more radical action to prevent irreparable destruction. It's sad that we have to celebrate someone doing the bare minimum, using basic logic, and practicing public decency, but here we are.
Maybe I've just gotten so used to preparing for hurricanes and wildfires and being treated like sh*t that I've lowered my expectations to subterranean bunker-levels. And maybe I am too naive.
It's probably naive to believe any of this will be possible or that any real change will happen with Biden. But given that the ex-president mostly communicated through all-caps rage-tweets, this is a nice change.
Biden also has an economic recovery plan. "The pandemic has also laid bare some unacceptable truths. Even before COVID-19, too many families were struggling to make ends meet and too many parents were worried about the economic future for their children," writes whoever wrote the copy for Biden's website.
"Laid bare": That's the phrase that every single one of my favorite journalists has used to describe the effects of COVID-19. Biden steals phrases from reputable journalists rather than from cracked-out Floridian moguls paying for rooms at Mar-A-Lago in order to gain favors from the president.
Wow, my expectations are really, really, really low. I mean, goddammit, the ex-president has failed at countless business ventures and has been bailed out time and time again. He's like Pete Davidson in this recent SNL sketch, who claims he's working on a "start-up" only for you to later find out that his "angel investor" is ghosting him.
Visiting Grandma - SNL www.youtube.com
Trump is a criminal who didn't even pay his taxes. He's literally Keith from this other SNL sketch (a not-so-subtle metaphor for Trump), and America is Ego Nwodim, somehow considering actually taking him back (until the cops show up).
Take Me Back - SNL www.youtube.com
Biden's economic plan promises to "provide state, local, and tribal governments with the aid they need so educators, firefighters, and other essential workers aren't being laid off." The plan also promises to "mobilize American talent and heart to build a 21st century caregiving and education workforce." He included carework and education—traditionally undervalued and under-recognized forms of essential work—in his economic plan.
Hopefully, with Jill Biden at the helm rather than Betsy DeVos, America's education and caregiving systems will improve so that more people of all genders have equal opportunities to ascend to the highest office in the land.
At the very, very least, there will be a dog back in the White House.
Joe Biden and his shelter dog, Champmymodernmet.com
Joe and Jill Biden with their German Shepard, MajorFashion Model Secret
Biden also has a plan to "mobilize across the board to advance racial equity in America." That's right: No more creepy, covert-but-kind-of-overt white supremacy implicit in the presidential platform.
Now, we have Kamala Harris, a Black and South Asian woman, as our VP! Sure, she might have a background in criminal prosecution, and representation doesn't equal reparations, but you know...it's still way, way better than that really disturbing "stand back and stand by" stuff we dealt with for four years.
There's an entire section on racial equality. There's a plan for police reform. We're doing the bare minimum rather than regressing at an exponential pace.
Let's not forget that racism is deeply ingrained in the fabric of America, and white people overwhelmingly voted for Trump. Also, this kind of change has been promised before, and we have been let down many times. There's a lot of work to do.
We aren't out of the woods yet—far from it. But for this one glowing weekend, the dense pines cleared and we saw a sky full of shooting stars. It didn't actually help anyone pay for their kids' food or clear their astronomical healthcare bills; but it's a promise and a chance to imagine that one day, we might make it out.
America Deserves Better
Joe Biden is not the patron saint of hope, equality, and change. In all honesty, it completely makes sense that a lot of people all along the political spectrum aren't excited about him. He's not exactly the guy of our dreams. And America does deserve better.
But hopefully, Joe Biden will be there over the next few years as we bind our wounds and heal the burns from our terrible spray tans. He'll give us time to get a couple makeovers, a la Tutar in the Borat sequel. He'll help us rebuild, and hopefully next time the election rolls around, we'll have found our footing as a strong, powerful nation that doesn't need a man at all.
Of course, many powerful villains remain. There's America's resident zombie-ghoul, Mitch McConnell, who has long been blocking Democrats' every effort to make real change. Even though the man is rotting from the inside out—perhaps his hatred has at last calcified into a visible plague?—we haven't been able to exorcise that particular demon yet. (Kentucky...we'll be ready to elect Charles Booker when you need us, but we can't help you until you help yourself).
And in truth, we will never heal until we learn to love ourselves, America. We can't rely on another old white man to fix us. We have to turn to our people, our communities, and mass movements. We have to decide what we want our future to look like, and go get it.
It's clear that it will take a lot more than a president-elect to wring out some of America's lingering, ongoing traumas. We'll need therapy, certainly, and a lot of it. Hopefully all those freshly legalized drugs will help with our collective depression.
At some point, we'll actually have to engage with the deep traumas and early childhood wounds that led us into these kinds of relationships in the first place. We have to confront the mistakes of our forefathers and foremothers, the slavery and colonization and colonialism that created the attachment issues and socio-psychological defects that drew us to men like Trump. We have to be the ones that change our lives in order to change our nation.
But that's a tall order, and we're all tired. So for now, I'm just going to keep gazing lovingly at the work of Biden's excellent web designer, who clearly knows how to pick a font and lay out an escape plan. I look forward to being mildly uninspired by Biden's administrative staff picks rather than openly horrified.
It's been a terrible time, America. For many of us, life has always been this way. But it's late-stage 2020; the status quo is no more, and anything is possible. If you told me I'd be writing a thirsty essay about Joe Biden's website in February 2020 I would have thrown my beer in your face then gone back to my awesome free concert (just kidding, I probably would've been right here on the Internet protected by net neutrality, but I digress).
Yes, I am pretty desperate right now, and I don't think I'm alone in that. But I have faith in the organizers that have been working tirelessly to get us here, and I believe if we keep fighting, organizing, and working towards change, we'll see a new world come to be.
For now, love is love, so I will continue to feel vaguely attracted to this website until climate change ends or I finally get my goddamned stimulus check.
We need to come together for a last-ditch effort to make sure that our election is fair and democracy lives another day.
The 2020 election is reaching its dramatic conclusion, and the world is watching to see which old white man America picks next.
The election was not the Blue Wave that Democrats hoped for, but it is still extremely close, with no definitive victor emerging on either side as of now.
But before we get to analysis, we must make sure to count every single vote. That is the basis of our democracy, the meaning of America and the center of what the founding fathers fought for when they dreamed up the United States so many years ago.
As expected, Trump declared victory early anyway in an election speech that was widely denounced by everyone from Ben Shapiro to George Takei.
No, Trump has not already won the election, and it is deeply irresponsible for him to say he has.— Ben Shapiro (@Ben Shapiro) 1604475073.0
"No, Trump has not already won the election, and it is deeply irresponsible for him to say he has," tweeted Shapiro early Wednesday morning.
"GOP leaders: Now would be a good time to grow a backbone and denounce Trump's early claim of victory when there are millions of votes still to be counted in hotly contested states," wrote Takei.
The Trump campaign is also apparently running active Facebook ads implying he won the election, despite the website's declaration that it would ban political ads after the election.
Now, people from across party lines are demanding that every vote be counted.
"We'll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court," said Trump. "We want all voting to stop. We don't want them to find any ballots at 4 o' clock in the morning and add them to the list, ok?"
Mail-in absentee ballots are currently still being counted. As of noon on Wednesday, around half of Pennsylvania's mail-in ballots have been counted, and 200,000 ballots remain to be counted in Georgia. 80,000 Michigan ballots remain, and around 400,000 remain in Arizona.
But the GOP is attempting to stymie ballot counts. In Pennsylvania, Republican lawmakers attempted to discount votes from a Pennsylvania county that allowed voters who filled out their ballots incorrectly to "cure" or fix them. People who forgot to put ballots in specific envelopes, for example, would have had their votes ignored if they hadn't been able to fix their ballots.
More than 200,000 mail-in ballots in Philadelphia remain to be counted, city commissioners Lisa Deeley and Al Schmi… https://t.co/aj8LTI8EVv— The Philadelphia Inquirer (@The Philadelphia Inquirer) 1604502476.0
A Pennsylvania judge met the attempt with a "skeptical" reception, according to Politico. Back in October, the Supreme Court ruled 4:4 that election officials must accept ballots that arrive 3 days after the election (five votes are needed to grant a stay, which bodes badly, since Amy Coney Barrett is now on the court).
Joe Biden and Donald Trump remain stunningly neck-and-neck across the nation. Before the election, many feared Trump might attempt to claim an early victory, especially if he appeared to be winning before all the ballots were counted.
Now, people around the country are preparing to take nonviolent action to demand that every single vote is counted. The Protect the Results coalition will be hosting peaceful marches around the country, and groups are prepared to strike (all nonviolently, to be clear for the riot-fearers among us) should corruption succeed.
The division between Trump voters and Biden voters may feel unbridgeable, but almost everyone agrees: We want to preserve our great democracy. Democracy relies on every single vote being counted; and this year, when millions of people voted absentee because of a pandemic, it only makes sense that some votes would take longer than others to count.
All in all, the election did not turn out as many people expected on Election Night. Democrats saw some victories: Arizona's Mark Kelly and Colorado's John Hickenlooper flipped their Senate seats. The Squad grew stronger, with new elects like Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, and America's first trans senator—Sarah McBride—joining AOC, Rashida Tlaib, and other progressive Congressmembers. But other Republicans who Democrats hoped to oust like Mitch McConnell, Joni Ernst, and Lindsey Graham maintained power, and the House's Democratic majority shrank.
Whether this is evidence that Democratic establishment is officially over and time is ripe for a new Democratic movement to take power, or if it simply proves that Republican power is strong in America, is still to be determined.
Now, with health care on the ballot, internment camps on the border, and election integrity almost irredeemably compromised, we need to come together for a last-ditch effort to make sure that our election is fair and democracy lives another day.
Join a virtual or in-person Protect the Results action in your city today.
Ordinary people will need to stand up to make sure that democracy is preserved.
After four years with Trump, the day finally arrived. We the people were asked to decide if we'd endure another four years under his orange fist.
At least, it should have been all of our decisions. But ever since the race was called for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, whistleblowers across the nation—and even Trump himself—have been protesting the election results.
Trump has openly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. His administration has attempted to reduce the number of ballots that will be counted in swing states. He rushed the nomination of a partisan Supreme Court justice just days before the election.
One week before the election, news broke that Trump had been trying to ask Republican lawmakers in swing states if they can ignore the popular vote and appoint Trump-supporting electoral college members. The list of warning signs goes on.
In light of all this, there were several ways that the election could have played out:
In the first scenario, Biden wins fair and square and Trump concedes. This could happen on Election Night, but it would most likely happen several days after the election, or depending on how counting ballots goes, the process could take weeks.
In the second scenario, Trump wins fair and square.
In the third scenario, Trump loses the election but refuses to relinquish power. He could do this constitutionally by refusing to offer a concession speech, or by directly mobilizing his supporters in his defense. He might also attempt to stop post-election ballot counting through legal or administrative means.
In the fourth scenario, Trump could appear to win, but his win will have either been doctored or influenced by non-democratic factors.
These two latter scenarios fall under the umbrella of a coup. They're also the two scenarios that have come to fruition. So what are Americans to do?
Expert compares Trump's politics to fascism youtu.be
Now that Trump has lost (and thus lost the protections of the presidency), he could end up in prison–his fortune gone. He has been millions of dollars in debt and has managed to con his way out of every scheme before, so he probably thinks he can do the same thing now.
But this won't happen in America, not with all this nation's powerful organizers, movements, and protections in place.
Everyday people have stopped coups before—but it always takes knowledge and a willingness to organize. Should Trump attempt to steal the election, every person who is able has to be willing to take to the streets and peacefully mobilize in protest.
The Protect the Results coalition is coordinating actions across the nation in response to every scenario. Youth movements and labor movements are planning on striking—the 100,000-member-strong MLK Labor Council is calling for a general strike if Trump refuses to step down, as is the youth movement coalition We Count On Us, a combination of Sunrise Movement, March for our Lives, and Dream Defenders.
Hold elected officials accountable.
The impetus for stopping a coup should, technically, fall on politicians and electors whose job it is to ensure a safe and fair election for all.
Democratic governors must appoint Biden electors, and the Democratic Party must refuse to concede should there be any sign that Trump is actively stealing the election. When it comes down to the wire, Congress must hold states accountable, particularly if Trump attempts to repress legally counted votes.
Elected officials were already promising to hold Trump accountable on Election Day. "We have our lawyers poised to move on a dime on Election Day or evening, as we see a problem," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the Huffington Post. "We're ready for it all. I would just like him to know it ain't going to happen for him at the end of the day."
Be careful where you get your information.
Media organizations have been preparing for a possible coup for months. Twitter labels tweets proclaiming false information as fraudulent, while Facebook may or may not be hosting irresponsible ads.
Media networks are also preparing for various cases, including a scenario where Trump still claims victory based on false information. Still, if Trump does attempt to claim victory, it's likely that his words will be aired far and wide by digital networks. Double and triple-check where you get your information, and be careful of sharing information, especially something that could cause panic.
Prepare for the possibility of a coup.
Remember that Trump's entire presidency has been marred by unlikely events.
"In short, Trump is trying to steal the election, more blatantly than any previous president, and providing a clear preview of how Republicans would move to further erode democracy if given another four years in power," writes The Week's Ryan Cooper. "It's an unusually clear and stark choice this election: a continuation of America's republican institutions, or its probable replacement with a tyranny."
Between Trump's efforts to sabotage the Post Office, his legal efforts to disrupt absentee ballot counting, and his refusal to disavow his supporters' violence, it is clear that Trump is not preparing to go gently into the good night. If tyranny is indeed afoot, we have but a brief window to stop it.
Believe that we will win.
"For the election to succeed, we have to think and act as if it will succeed," writes George Packer for The Atlantic. "Stealing an election remains extremely difficult, and almost impossible if the vote isn't close."
Though we must remain prepared for Trump to steal the election, we must also envision the future we want. There are millions of good people across America and hundreds of thousands of great leaders who have fought (and are still fighting) to make sure the election is run fairly.
Those who've demanded a fair election have righteousness, history, and the entirety of the Democratic process on their side, while Trump is a weak con man with an insatiable need to fill the gaping hole inside of him. He has made America an embarrassment to the world and has botched the COVID-19 crisis and launched us all into a depression. His time is over.
We just have to be ready to make sure he actually leaves.
Take care of yourself and your loved ones.
While we all have a role to play, no one is in this alone. If you've read this far, your anxiety about the election is likely off the charts. Take some time away from the news and send some love to friends and chosen family.
Accept the emotions you might be feeling (without blaming them on others), and do whatever you need to make yourself and your community feel loved and supported.
Neither Trump nor Biden has the ability to save or destroy the world, and fights for justice will go on and on, regardless of who's in the White House So get some rest, get ready to fight, and celebrate a fair, clean victory for democracy.
Selena Gomez, Swizz Beatz, Pete Souza, and many others have also contributed playlists to the initiative, designed to bring more happiness and hope to the voting process.
The election may be freaking you out, bumming you out, or just reinforcing what you already felt about America—but Joy to the Polls is trying to change that.
Too often, voting is a solemn, dread-filled experience. Long lines, high tensions, suppression, and the looming threat of COVID-19 have all made it uniquely difficult for people to get out to the vote in 2020.
But Joy to the Polls is based on the idea that it doesn't have to be this way—in fact, it shouldn't be this way. People have fought and died for our right to vote, and voting is our opportunity to create new beginnings in our nation. The process should be a celebration, not a nightmare.
"We have rampant voter suppression in the US," says Nelini Stamp, campaign director with Election Defenders and performer and organizer with Joy to the Polls. "We wanted to figure out a way so while people are outside of the polling station, we can bring them a feeling of safety and a feeling of joy."
Using the power of music and community, Joy to the Polls is an effort to rally and inspire as many people as possible on November 3rd. The group first gained notoriety when they sent artists to greet people voting early in Philadelphia, and a video of dancers doing the cha-cha outside a middle school garnered praise from Wanda Sykes and Ava DuVernay.
I love us so much. We rise. Always. https://t.co/bEySCGf2hr— Ava DuVernay (@Ava DuVernay) 1603658011.0
Since then, Joy to the Polls has launched a number of online and real-life efforts to make voting more joyful and musical. In NYC, punk rock legend Patti Smith was seen singing "People Have the Power" to a group of lucky early voters.
Their Spotify is also star-studded, complete with a number of playlists curated by high-profile musicians. So far, contributors have included America Ferrara, Billie Joe Armstrong, Busy Philipps, Hank Willis Thomas, Katie Couric, Kimbra, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Maggie Rogers, Marisa Tomei, My Morning Jacket, Questlove, Selena Gomez, and Swizz Beatz. Former president Barack Obama also contributed a list of throwback jams in honor of the cause. View the full list of contributors here.
Joy to the Polls is trying to reach as many people as possible across the country, and they're urging artists, performers, and community members to sign up to bring Joy to the Polls in their own way. Here's their national toolkit.
Joy to the Polls' number one focus (in addition to getting out the vote) is on making sure the election is fair and democratic. To that end, they're partners with Election Defenders, a movement dedicated to rallying leaders in local areas and defending the integrity of the 2020 election.
These movements were born out of urgency, in response to Trump's insinuations that he might not accept the election results, as well as ongoing voter suppression, ballot issues, and other problems that threaten democracy. Election Defenders has promised to organize peaceful mass mobilizations and strikes–if the election is not run fairly.
But none of that will be necessary if the election is run fairly. Joy to the Polls is trying to actually get people out to the polls to make sure this happens. Hopelessness is a major issue in America, and millions of people feel like their voices don't count or their fates are out of their control.
Every voice does count, and we all have the power to help elect local champions and create grassroots change. Short of that, it's still possible to dance and sing even in the most difficult of times. In fact, music tends to show up right when it's needed most—when things look most dismal, or when democracy is most frayed and revolution is most needed. In that respect, Joy to the Polls is operating in the revolutionary tradition of past radical creative traditions.
"It's understandable why people feel a lack of hope, or a lack of agency right now," said organizer Nelini Stamp. "But we are just trying to say, you know what? If we can make people feel good for 30 minutes in a two, three, or four-hour line, if we can help people show face and motivate more people to go out and vote? That is all worth it at the end of the day."
Check out Popdust's Joy to the Polls playlist here!