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I’m wary of anyone who dresses in skinhead fashions, regardless of whether they’re harmless.

Recently, I was involved in a Facebook “discussion” in which there was a majority of people (mostly white, but also some white-passing) who were arguing that when people see a skinhead, they shouldn’t automatically assume that they’re a neo-Nazi or even racist. One of the biggest non-white supporters of this theory was a white-passing Indigenous person and a light-skinned black man. Both had grown up steeped in punk and rude boy culture and saw the relation between those (mostly) harmless subcultures and the skinhead subculture. But what they all failed to realise was that most people—particularly visibly non-white people like me—don’t have the luxury to give any skinhead the benefit of the doubt. Though the origins of the skinhead subculture have nothing to (directly*) do with racism, there were a bunch of literal neo-Nazis who ruined it for the rest, and the scaremongering by the mass media in the ‘60s and ‘70s didn’t help; since then, the average person is likely to think “Nazi” when you say the word “skinhead.” I can see the point of these defenders of non-racist skinheads in a time before Trump, but now, their undying defense of skinheads seems not only misguided but ignorant and privileged as fuck. I remember when I was a kid and American History X came out; I remember not even being able to sit through it all because it was so scary to me: the idea of literal Nazis in my lifetime seemed like the ultimate nightmare—and I’m not even Jewish but knew enough history to know that my Pakistani family and I would’ve been targeted by the Nazis as well. Fast-forward to modern day when literal Nazis are openly and unashamedly marching in cities in the United States (and becoming emboldened in other countries, including quaint lil' Canada) and I’m perpetually afraid of every white person I see because I can’t tell if they’re an ally or a white supremacist who is slowly becoming emboldened.
Related: How White Fear Breeds Terrorism

Racism isn’t “saving” black people from the opioid crisis. It is only ensuring that the chronically ill black kids receive the worst pain management possible.

The current opioid epidemic is being called many things on the internet and in the media. The term that stands out is “the gentler war on drugs.” The name stems from the “war on drugs” of the 80s and 90s which saw the criminalization of crack addiction and the incarceration of hundreds of thousands of people addicted to or selling the drug.   Today’s opiate addiction wave is happening outside the urban communities, originating in doctor’s offices, and inundating the suburbs with heroin and opioid-based pills that carry an addiction that is much worse than crack to overcome. The fact that it’s even called an epidemic is problematic. The opioid addiction situation has led to several programs to benefit addicts, such as needle exchanges, Naloxone-carrying first-responders, and programs where addicts can come to the police station with the drugs and leave in a car ride to rehab—no criminal charges filed. The gentler drug war is not, however, benefiting everyone. According to Dr. Elissa Miller, Director of Palliative Care at Nemours Hospital in Delaware, the new restrictions on opioid prescriptions don’t involve criminal charges, but they do end up criminalizing the children who need the medication the most—young sickle cell patients in chronic pain. She says that these are the kids from families who are already wary of the medical establishment and are already struggling to maintain the outpatient care for the sick child in the family. The restrictions that Dr. Miller is forced to perform now drive a deeper wedge between her and her patients, while also making yet another barrier to care that the families must overcome in order to find care for the sick child. It’s no secret that black children are already the group of patients who receive the least pain management, according to articles like Rachel Rabkin Peachman’s “Why aren’t We Managing Children’s Pain?” which looks at the many ways kids are under-prescribed opioid painkillers when those are the very pain relief the child needs. Peachman says,” data shows that adults with the same underlying condition will get two to three times as many pain medication doses as children.” The inequality in pain management is worse with younger patients.
Related: Stop Stigmatizing How We Recover From Drug Addiction

I'm pleased to finally meet the flawed, yet whole Nola Darling, both through her and the women who love her.

I remember when I first met Nola Darling in 2007 during a university film class. Yes, she was alluring and sexy and like other people who had seemingly wandered into her path, I desperately wanted to get to know her. But I only saw glimpses of Nola through the eyes of those who wished to possess her. Who was she as an artist? How did she regain a sense of herself whenever she experienced abuse or mistreatment? Hell, did she have any real friends who didn't wish to sleep with her, aside from Clorinda?   Spike Lee's inaugural She's Gotta Have It is as much the mark of an immature filmmaker as it is a cinematic staple. While the 1986 film about a free-spirited, polyamorous woman may have cemented his career, its poor treatment of her left so much to be desired. One of Lee's more egregious missteps showed in the way Nola was denied any opportunity to process her varied moments of potential trauma — from her verbally abusive relationship with international playboy Greer Childs, to her own brutal rape by Jamie Overstreet. Even in the face of predatory behavior (from the only LGBTQIA character, mind you — another notable mistake) she is unflappable, the perfectly uncomplicated object of the vintage male gaze. Nola is mysterious, self-assured, sexy, and strong-willed, but she never feels whole. 31 years later, Spike Lee has revisited She's Gotta Have It for Netflix, and the episodic do-over is welcomed for a number of reasons. Nola (DeWanda Wise) and the men in her life — Childs (Cleo Anthony), seasoned, the now professional Overstreet (Lyriq Bent), and the iconic, charismatic Mars Blackmon (Anthony Ramos) — are fleshed out beyond their original caricatures. Nola is openly queer and involved with business owner and mother Opal Gilstrap (Ilfenesh Hadera). Best of all, Nola experiences trauma that isn't gratuitous, but relatable while allowing her to maintain her power. And when the time arrives for her to process her pain, she has a number of women to whom she can turn.

No matter how “beloved” Apu may be, it’s time for him to go.

While I appreciate The Simpsons’ place as iconic in the canons of American pop culture, I have never been a fan. My long list of complaints about The Simpsons includes its sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, extreme violence, child abuse and more. But one of my biggest reasons is and always will be Kwik-E-Mart clerk Apu. Over the years when I mention the racist stereotyping inherent in the character, most people have dismissed my concerns, telling me I’m being overly sensitive and asking why can’t I take a joke. Yet, every so often I’d watch a person’s eyes widen with the realization that they had never stopped to think about how an actual South Asian person would perceive Apu’s doofery, which has created widespread distortion of the Desi community that transcended its screen time into real life. Comedian Hari Kondabolu’s calling out of this racist caricature first in his stand-up routines and now in-depth in his TruTV documentary The Problem With Apu is what made me an instant fan of Kondabolu’s work. And also vindication for what I’ve been saying for decades. It wasn’t just that I was so grateful to see a South Asian comedian representing, but it was also hearing many of my own thoughts about the damage Apu has done to the Desi community echoed through Kondabolu’s own experiences as well as his interviewees. The Problem With Apu gives Kondabolu the opportunity to deepen his analysis as well as bring in some rather shocking back story of the character’s creation to light. Like, did you know that the ubiquitous line “Thank you, come again” was only said 8 times in the show? And did you know that Apu was never meant to be Indian at all? He was listed in the original script as “Clerk” and it was only during the first table reading that Hank Azaria decided to cobble together one of the most offensive Indian accents to have ever graced a TV screen. Since Azaria made his joke to a room of white dudes, of course everyone laughed and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon was born from a gaggle of assholes to haunt South Asian Americans for the rest of our lives.

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