Weekend Diversions 3.18.2016

I have taken too long a break from these weekend posts. My work schedule was different when I started this segment and I had more weekend time to compile the articles. To combat this scheduling conflict, I have decided to try writing and publishing the roundups on Fridays, when I have more free time during the day.

  1. How black people are being shut out of America’s weed boom: Systemic racism never ceases to fascinate and incite me. I read this over my coffee this morning, yelling aloud at intervals about how creating barriers for people who want to earn an honest, legal living only creates more injustice and racial disparity (my boyfriend, who was trying to plant seeds for our garden in peace nearby, is used to me talking to my phone, the radio, magazine articles, and so was not totally shocked by my random outbursts). The piece shows that, as in other emerging markets, white people have an economic and societal advantage over people of color.  Even those with experience selling, growing, distributing pot cannot make easy inroads as legalization spreads, because of past arrest records. Because darker-skinned Americans are more likely to have been caught for possession or selling marijuana (even though they are no more likely than anyone else, whites included, to have grown, possessed, sold the drug) they are banned from taking legal part in the weed trade. In order to truly move past the war on drugs and the targeting of people of color, strict edicts against past drug charges must be loosened; these arrests mark not a higher predilection for criminal behavior among people of color, but a disparity in how police treat people of different races. If someone wants to work legally, pay taxes, participate in their communities and economies, I do not understand making forcing them away, back into the underground black markets that legalization is designed to dismantle.
  2. Why losing a home means everything: While I’m on this political roll (am I ever not?), this is the article I wish I had written about the book I wish even more that I had written about housing injustice. Emily Badger does a wonderful job profiling a new book by Matthew Desmond (Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City) posits housing as a foundational necessity to success. And, surprise surprise, people of color often fair worse than whites in terms of housing poverty (spending more than thirty percent of income on housing, facing discrimination, being taken advantage of by landlords). When the majority of a household’s budget goes toward paying rent and utilities, even the slightest extra economic burden can result in homelessness. A visit to the dentist, the need for new clothes or shoes for children, car trouble becomes more than a minor upset in the budget; it can upset the entire household balance. As parents experience more money stress, as they begin to fear losing their homes, children may receive less emotional attention. Their grades may drop. They may struggle to socialize. This is not necessarily a reflection on poor parenting but on a system that does not support working poor. Many families have no support, and may not even know their legal rights, making them vulnerable to exploitation by landlords. They feel they have no ground to fight, and would rather live in substandard apartments than on the street. Desmond’s solution is a universal voucher program, which would guarantee adequate, safe, affordable housing for everyone. I agree. I can only hope the people with power do as well.
  3. Medical doctors and mental health professionals are finally talking: “People with severe mental illness are more likely to die prematurely than those without, often from treatable chronic diseases — in part because many…don’t receive regular medical care. They may be uninsured or unable to find doctors who take their insurance. They may be reluctant to seek care in traditional medical offices because of stigma or discrimination.”  Luckily, some practices are beginning to integrate behavioral and physical health systems. Bringing medical doctors into mental health facilities can remove barriers to care, resulting in better health outcomes for individuals with mental illness. Since 2009, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has distributed $150 million in grants to facilities across the country who are combining counseling with physical checkups. Outcomes for such programs are positive, leading to reduction in hypertension, diabetes, and other health concerns. The more support we can give people with few resources the better. Helping people where they are, with the least difficulty, yields great results.
  4. The wisdom of shattering: As I move through my own period of rebuilding, I enjoyed this poignant essay by Kimberly Brunelle George about letting oneself become fractured in order to heal. After my literal fracture, I have spent so much time healing physically and emotionally. George’s words were a wonderful reminder that taking a break does not equate failure and also that it is okay to feel grief when moving off one life path and contemplating another. Her words are so much more eloquent than mine, so I will let you take the full experience of the sentiment from her.
  5. Raw vegan donut holes: Because after all this reading you have probably worked up a healthy appetite. Or maybe you want something to nibble as your read. Or maybe both. In any event, make these donut holes. You will be very happy to have done so. I have yet to find a recipe by Emily von Euw that I do not adore. I have a hard time sharing the food I make from her site or her book. If you want to share, I recommend a double batch.

Alright, that’s all I have for today. Have a wonderful day and an amazing weekend. Go outside and play for a while. Smile. Hang out with good people Do some social justice. Whatever brings you joy.

 

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