The Hunger Games.

I know I’m several years late to the game (pun intended) but a few weeks ago, I finished all the books and two of movies from The Hunger Games series. I had been peripherally involved in the fanfare of the series when the movies first started coming out through a few good friends but it took finding used copies of the books to really spark my interest in the girl on fire (pun yet again intended).

For those who don’t know, the series takes place in a dystopian future in which North America is now separated into thirteen districts and ruled by a Capitol. A savage rebellion and war between the Capitol and districts tore apart the country, now known at Panem, 74 years earlier and as a reminder for the surviving districts’ failure (as the thirteenth had been destroyed), The Hunger Games were born. The games take place once a year and each district is required to pick one girl and one boy between the ages of 12 and 18 to literally fight to the death. The 24 tributes, as they’re referred to, are sent to an arena in which only one can leave and thus, becoming a tribute is almost certainly a death sentence.

But when Katniss Everdeen volunteers in place of her younger sister, everything changes. She manages to unwittingly play the Capitol at their own game by getting her and the other tribute from her district to both be declared victors and accidentally starts a revolution in the process. The books and subsequent movies follow from the start of Katniss being chosen for the games to the war and rebellion against the Capitol to the eventual win and rebuilding of the country.

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#NoDAPL – the Dakota Access Pipeline.

By now, you have probably heard about the protests and fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline lead by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota. The pipeline is proposed to run near the tribe’s land, through a sacred burial ground, and through the Mississippi River. Many have cited not only environmental concerns (particularly over potential leaks to surrounding rivers and water supplies) but also concerns over treaties with and the right to self-determination of the indigenous peoples and tribes here in the US.

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Ways to support people with depression and anxiety.

I wrote recently about the things to avoid when talking to people with depression and anxiety so I thought I’d offer some different ways to support people. I can really only speak to my own experiences so my suggestions for ways to support people can’t and shouldn’t be universal. What might work for me might not work for another person in large part because there is no universal experience with depression, anxiety, or any mental illness. Also: I am not a mental health professional so what I have to say about mental health both in this specific post and elsewhere is entirely based on my experiences.

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Non-apologies and Trans Characters in Hollywood.

There seems to be a weird trend where someone is called out on a mistake only for them to issue a non-apology that takes none of the blame. Making mistakes is inevitable – as humans, we’re flawed and messy. The repeating of the same mistakes and not owning up to them is what I personally have trouble with.

learn-make-mistakes-mistakes-quotes-Favim.com-760386 (1)It can be hard to admit you’re wrong and even harder for your actions to reflect that. Our society’s obsession and subsequent intense pressure towards success and perfection makes owning up to mistake damn near impossible but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Mistakes can often offer an incredible opportunity to learn and grow more.

All of this comes in the wake of yet another cis man being cast as a trans woman in a film. In this case, Matt Bomer was cast as a trans woman in a new movie called Anything and Mark Ruffalo offered a non-apology for it. I could go on about the implications of casting men to play trans women in Hollywood – like how it sends the dangerous message that trans women are really just men or how it takes away what little roles trans actors have to portray trans characters. This is an incredibly important conversation but there are significantly smarter people with significantly better insight that have been talking about this and I’ll let them take the ropes on it.

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Northern Racism.

I have lived somewhere in the Pacific Northwest for pretty much my entire life. I’ve travelled here and there and spent some time as a voluntourist in western Kenya but for the most part, I’ve lived in the mostly rainy and overcast upper left of the United States. For the most part, I love it here but it’s not without its faults.

We like to pride ourselves for being progressive and liberal here in the Pacific Northwest. Portlandia takes the liberal hipster ways of Oregon’s largest city slightly farther in its episodes, joking about feminist bookstores, local and organic food, and weird art. Pemco Insurance’s commercials of quirky stuff we do here is spot on. As a child, I learned to distance myself from my family in the South, learned to identify as a good white person.

But the reality is that racism and white supremacy is alive and well in the northern states of the US just as it is in the south. Some of it looks different, other parts of it looks exactly the same. But it’s still here and it’s really important that the white people here (myself included) not only recognize race and the racism here but we need to talk about it all and work to end it. My own experience limits me to the Pacific Northwest, but that doesn’t mean that other northern states are exempt.

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Hunt for the Wilder People.

Hunt for the Wilder People is one of the latest films written and directed by Taika Waititi and based on the book Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump. The film follows Ricky Baker, a 13 year old foster kid in New Zealand who is sent to live in the country with Bella and Hector. After Bella’s sudden death, Ricky runs away to escape being sent back to state care and Hector follows to try and get him back. An accident leaves the two stranded in the bush for a few weeks and when child services finds an empty house and burned down barn, they suspect the worst and a national manhunt ensues.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

I just recently finished the eighth and latest story in the Harry Potter universe – Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. Being a huge Harry Potter fan, I was really excited to hear about the play and the recently published script because I was so excited to see where the story picked up nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts. But honestly, I ended up being a little disappointed in the story.

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Learning about the Prison Industrial Complex.

I’ve been spending a lot of my free time reading books over the past few weeks and the last couple ones have in some part been focused on the prison industrial complex (PIC) and police harassment and brutality. My own experience and knowledge about the prison abolition movement has been only cursory and thus, learning more about all of this has been incredibly eye opening. So I thought I’s start a list of books and films to learn more about both the prison industrial complex and related abolition movement.

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‘Other people have it worse’ and other terrible things said to people with depression and anxiety.

I have depression and anxiety.

Being able to say that phrase was incredibly difficult for me at first because I didn’t want to admit that there was something wrong with me. I didn’t want to be a burden or have really hard conversations with people about what I was going through. So like a squirrel, I buried my feelings and my symptoms as best I could. Of course, I couldn’t keep hiding things forever and over the course of a few years, I finally found the right ways to describe the right ways.

But throughout my journey of not only figuring out what I was going through but also actually going through it all, I’ve experienced a lot of questionable support. Repeated phrases that people might think are helpful, remedies that I’m sure are helpful to someone, and more have all been offered to me throughout the past couple years as I opened up about my struggles to the people in my life. The intentions behind them are all good, I’m sure, but there were many of them that actually had the opposite impact on me.

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Teaching LGBT History.

Stonewall_inn_ny_2008

Photo of the Stonewall Inn in NYC.

Recently, I read about how some school districts around the US  were going to be teaching about LGBT history to students. This is, of course, a cause for celebration because it allows for LGBT students to learn about their community’s history in school. For one of the first times (at least in my experience), young people might be learning about the Stonewall Inn and Compton’s Cafeteria Riots and about people like Audre Lorde, Sylvia Rivera, and Marsha P Johnson.

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