"The unspoken option is guns"

Ta-Nehisi Coates on black people and their relationship to his country:

But this is not really an option at all—and not merely because it is impractical. Black people are Americans, one of the oldest classes of Americans. It is crucial to understand this. We are not seeking integration into someone else’s burning house. We built the house. It belongs to us as much as it belongs to anyone. And I think we will no more destroy our own American home than we would shoot down our own American children.

"The perfect world is made up of so much should."

Roxane Gay on Janay Rice, domestic violence, and our national cycle of indifference:

We do not live in a perfect world. We live in this ugly mess of a world, where Janay Palmer wasn’t really believed until we bore witness to incontrovertible evidence — the repulsive image of her being knocked out with a single blow by an NFL athlete. Even with such brutal evidence, Ray Rice still has his defenders, and he will likely get third and fourth and fifth chances. For women in far less visible relationships, the imperfect world is even more unfathomable. I am here, writing from this imperfect world about yet another terrible thing that happens to women, knowing these words will not make a difference.

"The social & moral bankrupcy suggested by this fact is of the bitterest, most terrifying kind."

It’s hard to write about racism—about the problems faced by blacks and other minorities—without a certain kind of response from a certain kind of writer: White people are poor too. Why don’t you write about them.

James Baldwin had this problem too, and his response—I think—is perfect:

People are continually pointing out to me the wretchedness of white people in order to console me for the wretchedness of blacks. But an itemized account of the American failure does not console me and it should not console anyone else. That hundreds of thousands of white people are living, in effect, no better than the “niggers” is not a fact to be regarded with complacency. The social and moral bankruptcy suggested by this fact is of the bitterest, most terrifying kind.

Yep.

"Free Stuff"

On Twitter, Jessica Valenti asked if any countries provide free or subsidized tampons or pads. In response, a crowd of angry men denounced her as a “cunt” and a “slut” who just wanted free stuff.

Nonsense slut-shaming aside (do these people not understand that women menstrate regardless of their sexual activity?), the reason this was a stupid response—and the reason Valenti’s was a reasonable question—is that affordable access to feminine supplies is a human rights issue.

For poor and rural women in places around the world, menstration can mean isolation and stigma. Without a way to absorb bleeding, women on their periods are shunned from schools and jobs, and stigmatized as unclean. Tampons and pads are a necessity, but they’re often out of reach and unaffordable. Instead, women use rags and newspapers, which risks infection, especially since the stigma attached to menstration also extends to cleaning menstral products in nearby rivers or streams.

Per Valenti’s question, free and subsidized tampons and pads would be a huge boon to women and girls around the world, saving lives and expanding women’s autonomy. Even in the United States, feminine products are expensive.(Seriously, if you’re a straight guy who has never bought tampons for a partner, go to the store and see how much they cost. It’s bananas.) Something as simple as making them tax-exempt (like other medical necessities) would benefit millions of low-income women.

Asking about tampons and pads isn’t about “free stuff,” it’s about helping women, protecting health, and saving lives.

Let’s Do the ‘Jerry Lewis’

A great look at a “lost track” from Paul’s Boutique, the Beastie Boy’s second record and arguably one of the best hip-hop albums ever made:

"Capitol higher-ups expected the Beasties to deliver a hit. Their A&R man, Tim Carr, had presented the Boys with the so-called “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” memo, which made the comparative case that the Rolling Stones were pigeonholed as a novelty blues band until they created their crossfire hurricane hit in 1968.

Capitol was saying – pleading – that the Beasties could make a new smash single without compromising their integrity. Their plea fell on deaf ears. Which is, probably, a good thing. If Capitol execs had ever heard “The Jerry Lewis,” they would’ve immediately opened a new Swiss bank account. Had “The Jerry Lewis” been released as Paul’s Boutique’s first single ahead of the under-performing “Hey Ladies,” Beastie Boys would likely have been permanently pegged as novelty knuckleheads, never to go on their long, strange journey.”