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We need more effective treatment.

President Trump just declared the opioid epidemic a “public health emergency”. I don’t need to define what a public health emergency is, but it means that the abuse of opioids and the overdoses that follow have reached a critical mass. The bodies are stacking up, as ghoulish as it is to describe it that way. Families are torn apart: children are losing their parents, parents are burying their children, grandchildren dying years before their grandparents. And I, myself, am a survivor of polysubstance addiction, meaning I was addicted to multiple substances including painkillers (like Dilaudid) and heroin. I’ve overdosed 5 times. And 3 out of the 5 times, I woke up in a hospital bed. The other two times, I ended up coming out of it myself — scaring my friends in the process. I’ve also known many who have overdosed and died. One of my friends, Brianna (I changed her name to protect her memory), died when the opiate crisis was beginning, around the same time Phillip Seymour Hoffman died. More recently, my friend Paul Yabor fell to this insidious disease.

Spacey's actions have nothing to do with his sexuality — like anyone who makes unwanted sexual advances on young teens, it is about one thing and one thing only: Power.

By Dr. Jonathan P. Higgins With the news of actor Anthony Rapp alleging that fellow actor Kevin Spacey made sexual advances towards him when Rapp was 14-years-old, many are more than upset with the way that Spacey responded to Buzzfeed’s article. In a statement released on Spacey’s personal social media account, his response was more focused on his sexuality and his alcohol usage than how his actions affected Rapp. With this type of gaslighting that happens very often to young men who are sexually abused by adult men, many on social media have been left asking: Why do we as a society always conflate homosexuality with pedophilia, ephebophilia and hebephilia? https://twitter.com/KevinSpacey/status/924848412842971136 We have to acknowledge the danger in what Spacey said. For years, society has always found a way to make the point that young men are molested by other men because of older men’s sexuality. But what Spacey allegedly did to Rapp, and what happens to thousands of young men, has nothing to do with sexuality and all to do with a pyschosexual disorder. Gregory Herek, a well known researcher and psychologist of gay violence at University of California Davis has noted this in their work, stating that pedophilia is a “pyschosexual disorder characterized by the preference for prepubescent children as sexual partners”. Herek points out that we must focus on the “actions” rather the “makeup or the motive of said perpetrator”. Spacey's actions have nothing to do with his sexuality — like anyone who makes unwanted sexual advances on young teens, it is about one thing and one thing only: Power. In most situations, child molesters and sexual abusers are usually in some type of powerful position and use said power (be it social capital, strength or otherwise) as a way to control their victim. For most perpetrators, it is never about the one’s sexual orientation, but having the said power and ability to control the victim. Research shows that most often pedophiles aren’t hung up on the gender of their victims, but the accessibility.

Gaining the courage to write fantasy fiction has made me realize how important the genre means to me as a Black queer writer.

Designated in October 2013 by Black SFF writers Balogun Ojetade and Milton J. Davis, Black Speculative Fiction Month is dedicated to celebrating Black speculative fiction creators in literature, film, and more. While reading Black speculative fiction has always been a thrilling experience, I've recently learned that creating it can help me imagine my most magical self. In late September, I finished "Moon Bloom" my very first fantasy short story with Black queer characters. The story was inspired by many things, but the most important factor was the desire to give myself the representation I've wanted to see for years. Since grade school, I've adored fantasy fiction and how the stories paint the imagination with magic, adventure, and wonder. I grew up with the Harry Potter series, which served as an entry point for other fantasy books like Tamora Pierce"s Tortall series and Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy. However, I didn't read any books by or featuring Black people until 2010.

Give people of color space to care for themselves, deal with the hurdles life provides, and to generally live their goddamn lives compared to exerting the constant pressure of joining a movement that, so far, doesn’t seem to care about them.

By Gloria Oladipo Brace yourself: I am proud vegan. But, not that proud. While I recognize and appreciate the value of veganism in a world rampant with increased health ailments and environmental crises, veganism remains a fairly inaccessible and ‘white’ movement. An introspective veganism movement, one with a more inclusive focus, is critical. It will be hard to reform veganism, but it can be done. Many tangible efforts can be made to create a more encompassing veganism movement for all: 

Cooking “cultural” vegan food

For many cultures, meat tends to be a prominent ingredient. This can make efforts to reduce people’s reliance on meat seem an appropriation of ethnic recipes. To counteract this, it’s important that trying to “veganize” ethnic recipes comes from people of that ethnicity compared to white vegans trying to “spread the good word”. For example, there are clear differences between a white-owned vegan soul food restaurant opening up in Harlem compared to a black-owned version opening up in Chicago’s Southside: one is a classic case of “culture vultures” while the other is a move towards a more sustainable and healthy way of eating supported by community members. Additionally, it is key to remind people who talk about the cultural centricity of meat that non-meat eating cultures do exist. Jainism, an ancient religion from India focused on harmlessness as a means of liberation, Hinduism, and Buddhism are just a few groups that don’t eat meat and instead promote plant-based diets.

Making produce more accessible

A major tenet of veganism is a renewed focus on a plant-based. However, for those who live in a food desert, an occurrence that happens in mostly minority communities, constantly buying fruits and vegetables can be near impossible. It is important that vegans take an active interest in trying to make produce more accessible by supporting community gardens and encouraging similar initiatives. Groups such as Growing Power, a nonprofit based in Milwaukee, WI with an active Chicago office, has started many programs in Chicago that bring gardening into vulnerable communities and engage residents in the growing and buying process. Growing Power and groups like it are always looking for volunteers and funding — needs that vegans can and should meet.

The truth is profit-driven exploitation and trafficking of people of marginalized identities is not only state-sanctioned, it is foundational to the US.

State-sanctioned labor exploitation, slavery, and human trafficking are bedrock institutions of the colonial US nation-state, to this day. The trafficking and enslavement of millions of people of African descent was abhorrently abused by every industry for profit. The US then used slave/slave-like labor and human trafficking for its prejudiced, violent settler-colonialism such as the forced relocation and internment camps of people of Japanese descent, the brutal forced removal of Indigenous Americans and later the abusive and exploitative “adoptions” of Indigenous American children, leading to up to 35% of Indigenous children as recently as 1974 being ripped from their families and cultures, as well as reconcentrados or concentration camps of Pilipinx people during US colonization, contributing to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands. Today, these institutions continue as intersecting systems of profit-driven oppression that target and exploit people of different marginalized identities for profit. The US continues to empower profit-driven human trafficking and labor exploitation, such as through guest-work visa programs. Despite numerous reports of labor violations and exploitation and the administration’s previous pledges, guest-work programs were recently increased through Congress and the Department of Homeland Security after industry lobbying. Corporations contract "labor brokers" who, often deceitfully, solicit labor for the visa program from around the world. Migrant or “guest” workers are then underpaid or unpaid in poorly regulated and dangerous conditions, and often have identity documents stolen or destroyed to manipulate and detain workers. Workers who have their documentation stolen or destroyed are then vulnerable to further exploitation. Across the country, undocumented migrants captured and placed in immigration detention centers are also made to do unpaid or underpaid labor in a system plagued by slow processing due to immigration court backlogs. This then contributes to multi-billion dollar profits reported by detention corporations and booming industry for bail bonds companies that also intrusively GPS track their clients. All the while this system of capture and exploitation is facilitated by a government enforcing procedures mandating 34,000 beds in detention centers be filled everyday while allowing failures in basic procedures leading to the government placing migrant children with human traffickers.

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