Word Vomit Wednesday - Yearly Wrap-Up

 Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

This year has been a doozy. Where last year everything and everyone we loved seemed to drop dead every other day, this year has brought about us picking up the pieces and laying a foundation for the country and lives we want. It has not been easy. Between one natural disaster after another, being gaslighted by the president, white supremacists feeling emboldened, more mass shootings by white men with histories of domestic violence, to shitty politicians and policies (the repeal of Net Neutrality JUST happened. Fuck you Ajit Pai.), and tweets that could possibly set off a nuclear holocaust (and more!) this year has been stressful AF. We have had a constitutional crisis nearly every single day. And we're still fighting. Since the Women's March on Washington the day after 45's inauguration we have not stopped and because of that, real changes seem to be forming. We are in high-tide with no chance of slowing our roll in sight. Meeting, marching, voting, calling our representatives, and taking down the patriarchy has become a daily part of most of our lives and it's making an impact.

Tarana Burke's #metoo movement has begun to hold men accountable for their actions and complicity is in the oppression and subjugation of women while letting women and other victims/survivors of sexual harassment and assault know that they will finally be believed. Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought charges against high-ranking connections to the 45 Administration in his investigation of collusion with Russia. We voted in women, POC, and transgender folx into offices (firsts for many districts) that have traditionally been held by middle-aged white men. And, Alabama, voted in Doug Jones, a champion of civil rights, instead of an alleged pedophile and let the GOP and RNC know that they wont stand for their party over people bullshit. 

There will continue to be highs and lows in the coming year and as we head into 2018 midterms, but if 2017 is any indication, we're going in stronger and more determined than ever.

 

On another note, I will be taking a few weeks off of posting WVW so I can focus on spending time with my family and resting over the holidays. I will be back in the new year with new posts and... the podcast! I'm really looking forward to getting that part of all of this going :) I want to thank everyone for their support and comments and DMs about the blog and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. 

 

Katie Louchheim would really just like to be on vacation now.

 

 

 

 

Word Vomit Wednesday - Conspiracy Against the United States

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

 

This week started off with a BANG (welcome to Scorpio season!). #IndictmentMonday did not disappoint those of us who have been waiting for some small dose of sanity and justice to peek it’s head through this dumpster fire of a year. Also, can we just let it sink in that it’s been almost exactly ONE YEAR since the election? This short period of time has felt like what I imagine living in a dimension where the Upside Down and all three seasons of Rick and Morty banged would be like. Potentially super entertaining to watch, in reality an absolute nightmare. And since none of us seem to have a portal gun to use to escape or Eleven’s powers to fight back, it’s been a little rough. It hasn’t been all bad, though. Having these turds in the White House has woken a lot of people up to how sick this country is and how it’s been sick from the beginning.

You can’t come to a land already inhabited by people, start murdering and raping them and then claim your intentions are for the pursuit of happiness. You can’t build a nation on the unpaid and often abused and raped backs of people you stole from another continent and claim to believe in freedom and justice for all. As a country, we have not dealt with the fact that our nation was founded in the near-genocide of a majority of our native people and cemented in the slavery of black people. If we cannot address our past, we will never heal. We won’t be able to create the solutions that will actually be helpful for all Americans and we will never be the land of the free and home of the brave. We will remain a place where people who are considered “other” will be continually fighting the limitations put on them and where too many white people will remain cowards. That’s the real conspiracy of the United States. The American Dream does not exist. We’ve grown up believing a complete lie.

I do have hope that things can be turned around. Because we’re not a particularly old country, I would say this could be seen as a huge growth spurt. We’re either going to come out of this an even bigger butthead or we will start learning how to walk our talk. In my own experience, I feel much more involved in our political landscape than I ever have before. I feel like I have so many more resources about how to understand how our institutions work and the best ways to contact our representatives to make our voices heard. Growing up it was instilled in me how important it was to do our civic duties. For the longest time for me, that only included voting and jury duty. I remember thinking that if I really got involved in the political landscape I wouldn’t be able to pursue other dreams that I wanted for my life.

Obviously, that was a very extreme conclusion I came to. It has become clearer that politics don’t need to take over, but do need to be some sort of an active presence in our lives. Just like anything we need to do for ourselves: vacuuming, running errands, and picking up the kids from school. Keeping in touch with our representatives to express our concerns somehow needs to be normalized as something we actively engage in because it just needs to be done. Not only that, but as I become a more active participant in my own life in many other ways, the happier I am and the less disappointed and apathetic if things don’t go my way.

The only way for this country to reach the potential of greatness that it has is if everyone becomes more active in some way. We put so much emphasis on vague words. What if, instead, we clarified what the word “freedom” actually means or the word “great”? If you talk to different people about what “freedom,” “great,” “liberty,” “American Dream,” etc., mean to them you’ll probably get a lot of different answers. There’s so much intellectual capital in this country that maybe if we just start to clarify what values these words and symbols actually represent, we could start working toward incorporating those values.

America doesn’t have to be great again. We’re already great and we’re awesome enough and strong enough to tackle these major demons of ours. What America needs is to grow up.

 

Katie Louchheim fails A LOT at #adulting which has made her smarter, more curious, assertive, and generally in a near-constant state of frustration.

Word Vomit Wednesday - The Art of Violence

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

CW: Violence

You know what I’m going to write about today. I know that I have to write about it today. We’re all fucking exhausted about having to rehash the same shit over and over again. So, I’m gonna ease us into this topic from another entry point. This weekend I went to two pieces of immersive theater. The first was a piece about well-known serial killers and the second about Cleopatra. And, to clarify for anyone who doesn’t know, immersive theater is basically when the wall between the audience and the show itself are broken. The audience is able to interact with or even become a part of the show. The first one was set in an enormous brownstone in Harlem where one was able to walk up and down various flights of stairs and in an out of multiple rooms, happening in on actors in various scenes. This sounds pretty cool, as most of the shows trailing on the heels of Sleep No More, which catapulted this type of theater-going experience into the mainstream, do.

Except, in the case of this show, it was a horrible idea. Sleep No More, for example, is a retelling of Macbeth. A very well known story that even if people have never read it before they’ve at least heard of Shakespeare. This serial killer show was not a story. There were no metaphors. There was no self-reflection or nuance to call upon. It was people brought into a house to relive young boys and women being raped and murdered by glorified white men. I’m shaking as I write this. This is not edgy. This is not pushing the envelope. This is exploitation of our minds, bodies, money, not to mention, the victims of the brutality of these men.

To contrast, I could not have looked more forward to The Cleopatra Experience the following night (not least of all because my friend Talia Thiesfield was slaying as the queen herself). The venue was morphed from black box to nightclub with pink lighting and an Ariana Grande remix playing to set the mood. I sat on a silver cushion and immediately felt relaxed. I’ve never been a club kid, but being surrounded by music with people who were ready to have a good time and hear a story about one of the greatest leaders in history as the audience became citizens of Alexandria, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. The story was told through topical club bangers and pop-melody perfection, a catwalk competition down The Nile and the exploration of love, betrayal, leadership and the difficulties faced when a leader is also a woman. It was a fun, thought-provoking, and moving piece.  

The fucked up thing is that a real-life Octavian could have marched himself into the theater as we danced in celebration of Cleopatra’s victory over Rome with guns a-blazing and snuffed us all out. That seems to be the normal thing, right? We can’t do anything enjoyable without fear that we’re going to be gunned down. Our kids can’t go to school, we can’t go the movies or concerts or clubs or our places of worship. Nothing that makes us feel connected and alive. And we’re expected to be ok with that. We are so oversaturated with violence that it doesn’t even occur to some people how fucked up it is to put on a show where the audience is immersed in identifying with the killers while hearing and watching the brutalization of people. As I wrote about in the first WVW (Comedic Complicity), the art that is made is a microcosm of what is happening culturally. It’s fucked up that people won’t name white men that terrorize people as terrorists and make any and all excuses to not do that when all evidence points otherwise. It’s fucked up that the focus is on them and not on victims and survivors and they’re families. It’s fucked up that many politicians refuse to stand for comprehensive gun control even when children are murdered.

We can talk all day about the 2nd amendment and the misuse of mental illness and a million other talking points until we’re blue in the face. But until those things from the previous paragraph are seriously reconsidered, this will happen again and again.  People who want to kill people will always find ways to do so, but we can be responsible and compassionate to the rest of us who just want to live by setting up society to make it more and more difficult for those who would harm to actually do it.

 

Katie Louchheim is “Free Fallin’”

Word Vomit Wednesday - Things More Offensive than Taking a Knee

Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.

Since we all like a fun Buzzfeed list, I made one of my own: 

                                       20 Things that are More Offensive than Taking A Knee                                                                                    CW: Trauma/Police Brutality/Violence                                             *The order does not indicate significance

1. Dontre Hamilton, 31, shot 14 times by Officer Christopher Manney. Reason: Existing as a person with paranoid schizophrenia. He was not armed. Officer not charged. (Milwaukee, WI)

2. Eric Garner, 43, choked to death in an illegal chokehold by Officer Daniel Pantaleo. Reason: Selling loose cigarettes. He was not armed. Officers not charged. (Staten Island, NY)

3. Trayvon Martin, 17, shot to death by civilian and serial domestic abuser George Zimmerman. Reason: Wearing a hoodie. He was not armed. Zimmerman was not charged bc Stand Your Ground Laws in FL, seem to allow murdering unarmed children. (Miami, FL)

4. Michael Brown Jr., 18, shot to death by Officer Darren Wilson. Reason: Suspected armed robbery. Michael Brown was not armed. Officer not charged. (Ferguson, MO)

5. John Crawford III, 22, shot to death by Officers Sean Williams & David Darkow. Reason: Shopping at Walmart. He was not armed. Officers not charged. (Dayton, OH)

6. Ezell Ford, 25, shot to death by Officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas. Reason: Existing with mental illness. He was unarmed. Officers have not been charged. (Florence, CA)

7. Tamir Rice, 12, shot and killed by Officers Timothy Loehmann & Frank Garmback. Reason: Playing with a toy gun. He was unarmed. Officers not charged. (Cleveland OH)

8. Rumain Brisbon, 34, shot and killed by Officer Mark Rine. Reason: Officer mistook a pill bottle for a weapon. He was unarmed. Officer not charged. (Phoenix, AZ)

9. Freddie Gray, 25, died of spinal cord injury after being arrested by police. Reason: Running away. Allegedly carried a switchblade. All five officers were not charged. (Baltimore, MD)

10. CURRENT EVENT BONUS!!! The people of the United States Territory of Puerto Rico. After being ravaged by Hurricane Maria that left the island without 100% of it’s power, potable water to only 40% of its population, 16 people dead so far and more will start dying if they continue to go without resources. 45 has not only blamed the island for its issues and has refused to repeal the Jones Act which would allow Puerto Rico to receive foreign aid in this crisis. Reason: They’re brown and 45 probably doesn’t realize that they’re American. 45 is an asshole. (USA)

11. Sandra Bland, 28, found dead in a cell three days after being arrested by Officer Brian Encinia. Reason: Failing to signal when changing lanes. She was unarmed.  Officer was fired and indicted for perjury, no one charged in her death. (Prairie View, TX)

12. Alton Sterling, 37, thrown to the ground by police Officers Blane Salamoni & Howie Lake II and shot. Reason: Selling CDs. He was unarmed. Officers put on administrative leave, but not charged. (Baton Rouge, LA)

13. Philando Castile, 32, shot multiple times in his car by Officer Jeronimo Yanez in front of his girlfriend and her five-year-old daughter as he was complying with proper procedure and reaching for his gun license. Reason: Broken tail light. Was licensed to carry a weapon and was following proper protocol. Officer put on administrative leave, but not charged. (Falcon Heights, MN)

In this next part of the list I’m going to acknowledge some of those murdered from the transgender community. Transgender women of color face more violence than any other group and have been dying for decades. Here are a few of those who were killed this year alone:

14. Mesha Caldwell, 41, shot to death on Jan. 4, 2017. Still under investigation. (Canton, Mississippi)

15. Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28, murdered by Joshua Rayvon LeClaire. He was charged with murder and manslaughter. (Sioux Falls, South Dakota)

16. Tiara Richmond aka Keke Collier, 24, fatally shot on Feb. 21, 2017 on the same street that two other transgender women were killed on in 2012. (Chicago, IL)

17. Chyna Doll Dupree, 31, shot and killed while visiting friends and family. There have been at least nine reported murders of transgender people in Louisiana since 2013. (New Orleans, LA)

18. Chay Reed, 28, shot and killed April 21, 2017.  (Miami, FL)

19. Sherrell Faulkner, 46, died on May 16, 2017, of sustained injuries from an attack on Nov. 30, 2016. Police are treating the assault as a homicide, no arrests have been made. (Charlotte, North Carolina)

And for what makes all of the above possible…drum roll please…

20. White Supremacy/Fascism. When a person is privileged enough to get offended by someone using their 1st Amendment rights to create a dialogue of how differently America treats it’s brown and black citizens, rather than being offended by the treatment of brown and black citizens, then that person is probably a white supremacist. Those people are culprits in the treatment of and the deaths of those above and the millions more that I did not mention here. If we want the flag and the National Anthem to mean anything, we need to heal our deep hypocrisies. We cannot claim to be “the land of the free and home of the brave” when so many of our fellow citizens remain shackled.

Katie Louchheim believes that black lives matter more than a fucking ball game.