This year, like 2016, seemed like a continuous garbage fire (and in some places, there were actual fires…). It’s been hard to stay strong, to be positive about the kind of future we have in store. Plus, with winter officially upon us in the northern hemisphere, these cold, short days are perfect for negative thinking and depressive attitudes (at least for me). So in light of all of that, I wanted to write about some of my favorite things to come out of this year.
Favorite interview/profile: “The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black” by Ijeoma Oluo for The Stranger
This piece was definitely one of my favorite things I’ve read in quite some time. Oluo interviews Dolezal about her experiences with race but adds in her own experiences as an actual black woman. In the midst of Dolezal’s own words, Oluo writes about the problem with Dolezal’s attempt at claiming blackness, historical elements of racial identity, and how social constructs still have an impact on people’s lives. If you’ve ever wondered about Rachel Dolezal and the idea of racial ‘passing’, I recommend reading this piece.
Favorite new podcast: 36 Questions from Two-Up Productions, staring Jonathan Groff and Jessie Shelton
I’m not going to lie: I’ve been mildly obsessed with this podcast since listening to all three parts back in early September. 36 Questions is a bit of a new phenomenon in that it’s actually a podcast musical; the story follows a husband and wife trying to fix their marriage with the reason they fell in love in the first place: the 36 questions said to make two strangers feel closer to one another. I could go on and on about this show but to keep things short and sweet, I definitely recommend 36 Questions to anyone who likes podcasts and musicals.
Favorite community group: Lupinewood
Lupinewood is located in Greenfield, Massachusetts and has been fixing up the Peabody Estate in order to build a community space for marginalized organizers and artists. There are plans for a low cost herbal health clinic, workshops and conferences with artists and radical professors, a collective of childcare providers, short term crisis housing, and so much more. If you can, consider donating to the efforts to bringing this vision to life! The estate was left in shambles after years in foreclosure and there’s a whole lot of work to be done.
Favorite show: Superstore (2015) – NBC
Okay so technically, this show is in it’s third season right now (as it came out in 2015) but it’s by far my favorite show of 2017. It’s funny, goofy, and a little awkward; but ultimately, it feels incredibly real. The show follows a crew of workers at a big box store while they navigate working for a big corporation and life outside it. Somehow, Superstore regularly manages to find the humor in intense, real life issues without being too causal about them.
Favorite film: Kedi – Nine Lives: Cats in Istanbul
This adorable documentary is about the cats that call the streets of Istanbul home and have for centuries. There are moments of beauty and love throughout the film and the interviews of those who help care for some of the cats show the impact that these cats have on Istanbul’s culture. Plus, the music and cinematography help make this film an incredible experience.
I actually was late to the game for both these songs and I’m kicking myself for that. Kesha’s ‘Praying’ is her first single in four years and is incredibly emotion and powerful. I’ve listened to this song on repeat for a week now and I still get chills each time. Paramore’s ‘Fake Happy’ is from their latest album ‘After Laughter’ and after years of having depression but faking it, I can’t help but feel incredibly connected to this song.
Favorite book: When We Rise by Cleve Jones
Okay so this is another one of those favorites that didn’t actually come out this year. ‘When We Rise’ by Cleve Jones was actually released in November of 2016 but it’s definitely a book that you should read if you have any interest in gay rights and history. It’s a memoir about Jones’ life as a gay rights activist, including his work with Harvey Milk in the 1970s.
Favorite event: the #MeToo movement
This year really seemed to be the year that we can openly talk about sexual assault/harassment and people are finally believed when they talk about these things. For years, it’s felt like these issues have been only talked about by some and society as a whole hasn’t taken many allegations seriously. But something about this year changed the national conversation changed and (mostly) men finally started facing consequences for sexual assault and harassment. Or at least, some men have faced consequences. There’s still work to do unfortunately.
I’m so incredibly proud of all the people who’ve come out and spoken their truths about facing and dealing with sexual assault/harassment. Doing so is not easy when too many people are quick to shame and blame victims (especially if the person speaking out is a woman). If you have started to speak about your own experiences, I’m so proud of you. And if you haven’t for whatever reason, I’m still proud of you. There’s no right time with these things and I’m just so proud of everyone for surviving and thriving.
Runner ups (aka other things I loved this year):
- Rabbits (podcast from Pacific Northwest Stories)
- Last Name Basis (podcast from Franchesca Ramsey and her husband, Patrick)
- Get Out (film)
- Yes, this is a witch hunt. I’m a witch and I’m hunting you. – Lindy West, New York Times
- The incarcerated women who fight California’s wildfires – Jamie Lowe, New York Times Magazine
- The Establishment (a multimedia company that’s run and funded by women)
This year was chaotic and overwhelming but there were some good things to happen. Fighting injustice and inequality is necessary in this day and age but not burning out is too. We all need a balance between it all and I know I can’t be the only one who needed a reminder of all the good things that happened over the last year. So during this time of uncertainty and holiday cheer, I hope everyone takes some time for self-care and remembers the good things in life.