Approach Tunde Wey’s lunch counter/sociology experiment at the Roux Carre market in New Orleans, and — if you’re white — you’ll have a decision to make. And it’s not just whether you want to try his jollof rice or his fried plantains. Wey serves his Nigerian food with a lesson about racial wealth disparity: The median income among African American households in New Orleans is only $25,806, compared to $64,377 for white households. According to the Urban Institute, the national average wealth of white families is $919,000, while the average wealth of black families is $140,000. Wey will share some stats with his customers, and then he’ll tell them the price of their lunch.
If they’re a person of color, they pay $12. If they’re white, he’ll tell them they can either pay $12, or they can pay $30 — two and a half times the base price, which reflects the wealth disparity in New Orleans. He tells them the profits will be redistributed to people of color, but not as charity — just to any minority customers of his who want it, regardless of their income or circumstance.
“When I tell black folks what’s happening, 90 percent of them start laughing, like, ‘For real?’ They’re tickled,” he said. “White folks, there’s this blank — ” he paused and laughed, “— this blank look. They’re like, ‘Huh, okay.’”
Wey is familiar with that look. In 2016, he traveled across the country hosting a dinner series he called “Blackness in America.” He would cook a Nigerian feast for his guests and engage them in conversation about some of the most pervasive problems facing our country, such as racism, sexism and police brutality. Black guests found these discussions cathartic, while many white guests found them uncomfortable. “White folks or privileged folks are quick to try to find a solution, or ask for a solution, as opposed to sitting in the discomfort,” Wey told The Washington Post during one of the dinners.
The lunch counter, Saartj, is named after Saartjie Baartman, a South African woman who was put on display in the early 1800s in Europe because of her large buttocks, and given the nickname “the Hottentot Venus.” When Wey devised the project in New Orleans, he wanted to study people’s reactions to it, so he enlisted a student from Tulane University to devise an exit interview that would help him understand why people decided to pay the amount that they chose. After the price reveal, the conversation would typically take one of several established paths. People of color, who were asked if they wanted their money back after the conclusion of the experiment on March 4, typically said no — many said it should go to someone who needed it more than them. Some black people tried to also pay the $30, saying that because they could afford it, they felt obligated to pay the higher price. (Wey would accept only $12 from people of color.) In the end, when Wey totals up the profits, he expects the customers who opted to receive money will get about $75 each. He says he is not keeping any profit for himself.
As for white customers: A handful of them immediately canceled the transaction and walked away. The remainder were faced with “this awkward moment where they have to make a choice” — and, importantly, they had to make that choice in front of Wey.
Initially, he expected that few white people would pay the $30.
“I thought, if given the chance to voluntarily give up privilege, folks would not because it is not in their interest,” he said. But he was wrong: So far, more than 80 percent of white customers have opted to pay the higher price, and Wey realized that he had been underestimating the power of social pressure.
“If I created the framework where I outline a problem that is indisputable, and I position you as an antagonist, and I give you a way to solve the problem tidily and be the hero — in the moment, anything other than the $30 choice becomes antisocial behavior,” he said. Social pressure also explained why the handful of white people who decided to pay the $12 did so with apologies, trying to justify their choice. “That explained to me why the folks who refused to pay the $30 were equivocating, because they understood that they were participating in antisocial behavior.”
Your bread-and-butter Dungeons & Dragons party won’t include a manticore, a gargoyle, a hyena or a sentient fungi, but maybe it should. One D&D player spent a year and a half converting every single creature in the D&D [5E] Monster Manual into playable characters, and now players can live out their dreams of being a great fire beetle who slays dragons.
There are hundreds of monsters in D&D’s Monster Manual, many of which don’t really lend themselves to the Lord of the Rings-esque adventures that traditionally star humanoids. Most dungeon masters won’t let players stray too far from that model. It’s hard to wrap a plot around a rag-tag team of dire bats and oozes, and it’s hard to make sure a party’s stats are balanced when it contains both a faerie dragon and a mastiff.
Creator Tyler Kamstra’s new 283-page homebrew mod “Monstrous Races” offers ways for players to embody any of D&D’s monsters using stats, role-playing notes and everything else you’d expect to see listed next to the “Human” race in the D&D Player’s Handbook. To play a basilisk, for example, players can attempt to petrify a creature with their gaze as an action. This is helpful, since basilisks don’t have hands, rendering them incapable of holding a sword. To play a banshee, or an undead spirit of a female elf, Kamstra recommends that players covet beautiful objects and remain within five miles of anywhere the banshee lived while alive.
This “Monstrous Races” mod is the sort of wonderful thing that, back in D&D days of yore, would exist as a titanic document in some far-flung basement, only to be enjoyed by a handful of players. We can at least thank the internet for giving us playable purple worms.
Okay so apparently people don’t believe me or others when we say that the First Order are basically space Nazis. Here is a link to a direct quote on the subject.
Are we good now? Can you understand why people don’t want these Star Wars villians being treated as misunderstood babies?
“There’s so many examples of how women are on the frontline and doing all the work [in real life], but it’s just not respected and not celebrated,” Gurira said.
There are several reasons punishments (including spanking, time out and “consequences” when they presented punitively) are mistakes. The most crucial is that children who are taught through physical or emotional pain tend to stop trusting us and themselves. Expecting humans at their most vulnerable stage of life to learn through pain and shame (when healthy adults would never put up with this) doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? Can you imagine taking a college course and being spanked or banished to “time out” because you weren’t learning quickly enough?
Even if punishments didn’t have long term negative effects, the truth is they don’t work. The loving, trusting bond our children have with us is what makes following our code of behavior and internalizing our values something they want to do. Erode that relationship, and discipline becomes an “us against them” struggle.
Perceiving children as “bad” rather than in need of help
There was a toddler in one of my parent/toddler guidance classes whose behavior could be considered “bad”. He was compelled to push limits, probably because his adoring, gentle mother struggled to set them confidently. She admitted that his behavior unnerved her. That, in turn, unnerved him, and “acting out” was the way he demonstrated it.
Some days I would have to calmly follow this boy, shadowing him so that he wouldn’t push or tackle one of the other 18-24 month olds. When I sensed an aggressive impulse coming, I would place my hand in the way and say matter-of-factly, “I won’t let you push” or gently move him away from the friend he was tackling and say, “That’s too rough.”
There was no point in reminding him to touch gently (in fact, that would have been an insult to his intelligence). He knew exactly what ‘gentle’ meant and was clearly making a different choice. But what I would often end up asking was, “Are you having a hard time today?” “Da”, he’d answer a bit wistfully, a hint of a smile on his face, recognition in his eyes. This simple acknowledgement coupled with my calm, consistent limit setting would usually ease the behavior.
Toddlers love to be understood. They also need to know that their discipline “teachers” are calm, unruffled and understanding, not thrown or upset by their behavior. And that is the way that I have come to understand misbehavior. It is not intentionally bad, mean or a way to upset parents. It is a request for help.
Help me, I’m tired. Help me, I have low blood sugar. Help me stop hitting my friends. Help me stop annoying or angering you… better yet, stop me before I do those things. Help me by remaining calm so I sense how capable you are at taking care of me. Help me by empathizing, so that I know you understand and still love me. Help me so that I can let go of these urges and distractions and be playful, joyful and free again.
I don’t usually reblog children-things, but this is important.
Part of the issue is our cultural toolbox for dealing with problems is woefully understocked. Right now its almost entirely punitive. Many parents just aren’t equipped with the tools to enforce without punishment. We, as a culture, need to fix this. We need to give these parents the de-escalation skills and alternative methods to punishment for dealing with kids, to prevent that adversarial dynamic between child and parents.
The thing about the feminism on display in Jessica Jones is that it isn’t universally empowering or accessible. This is a series that centres the titular character’s pain above that of other people, and that treats the lives of people of colour—particularly men of colour—as accessories to her narrative.
As a show, Jessica Jones has represented peak ‘white feminism,’ centring white womanhood, from day one. Like Agent Carter, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman, it’s a narrative focused on white female characters in worlds where characters of colour are afterthoughts, sidekicks, villains, or background support. From Reva Connor’s death being used as a catalyst to jumpstart Jessica breaking free from the control of her abusive ex, Kilgrave, to the overwhelming lack of characters of colour in the series’ New York City, to killing off both of its black female characters in the second season, and to Jeri Hogarth filling the “Evil Lesbian” trope, this is not a series that cares about putting forward an inclusive or intersectional form of feminism.
However, one of the most glaring examples of this is in the way that the series treats its male characters of colour, particularly in its second season. Men of colour and their experiences (including their trauma) are never seen as important or as valid as Jessica’s trauma.
I got to write about Jessica Jones mediocre second season and how the season failed the three recurring male characters of color for Anathema Magazine. This season was even more awful about how it treated male characters of color and that’s saying something considering how the first season had Jessica stalk and sleep with Luke Cage knowing full well that he was connected to the woman that she’d killed on Kilgrave’s command.
If you’re interested in reading me at some of my saltiest, check out “Jessica Jones Doesn’t Care About Men of Colour” at Anathema Magazine!
(And if you like me at my saltiest, consider becoming a Patron today because oh boy am I salty over there!)
The full piece has hit 2000 words but it’s still not quite done and it’s definitely disjointed because I bounced all over the place in my mild anger. However, here’s a snippet where I talk about why the novelizations burned away what little Rose Tico love I had managed to keep after actually watching The Last Jedi.
If you want to see my incredibly critical thoughts about Rose Tico interactions with Finn in the novelization for The Last Jedi (and how the novelization, like the film, basically ignores Finn’s characterization and arc from The Force Awakens), this 600-word snippet is up on Patreon for everyone at the $1 Tier and higher!
> The college I attended was small and very LGBT friendly. One day someone came to visit and used the word “gay” as a pejorative, as was common in the early 2000s. A current student looked at the visitor and flatly said, “we don’t do that here.” The guest started getting defensive and explaining that they weren’t homophobic and didn’t mean anything by it. The student replied, “I’m sure that’s true, but all you need to know is we don’t do that here.” The interaction ended at that point, and everyone moved on to different topics. “We don’t do that here” was a polite but firm way to educate the newcomer about our culture. […]
> It turns out talking about diversity, inclusion, and even just basic civil behavior can be controversial in technical spaces. I don’t think it should be, but I don’t get to make the rules. When I’m able I’d much rather spend the time to educate someone about diversity and inclusion issues and see if I can change how they see the world a bit. But I don’t always have the time and energy to do that. And sometimes, even if I did have the time, the person involved doesn’t want to be educated.
> This is when I pull out “we don’t do that here.” It is a conversation ender. If you are the newcomer and someone who has been around a long time says “we don’t do that here”, it is hard to argue. This sentence doesn’t push my morality on anyone. If they want to do whatever it is elsewhere, I’m not telling them not to. I’m just cluing them into the local culture and values. If I deliver this sentence well it carries no more emotional weight than saying, “in Japan, people drive on the left.” “We don’t do that here” should be a statement of fact and nothing more. It clearly and concisely sets a boundary, and also makes it easy to disengage with any possible rebuttals.
> Me: “You are standing in that person’s personal space. We don’t do that here.”
> Them: “But I was trying to be nice.”
> Me: “Awesome, but we don’t stand so close to people here.”
> Them: Tells an off-color joke.
> Me: “We don’t do that here.”
> Them: “But I was trying to be funny.”
> Me (shrugging): “That isn’t relevant. We don’t do that here.”
I really really do want to endorse this. Making a person’s behavior about capital-M Morality is a great way to get people to dig in their feet and escalate situations. By going “Hey, that behavior doesn’t fit in this context.” it removes a ton of the resentment and toxicity on both sides of the interaction.
My background is largely in History (both of my degrees so far are in that field) but I’m also studying intersections of identity in comic books and related literature for my MA in Literature. I apply that background to what I write whether it’s in fiction or in the articles and reviews that I do.
You can find my fiction in Fireside Fiction and in the Undercities anthology by Dirty Bird Press. I have also written non-fiction (essays, reviews, articles) for Word of The Nerd, ComicsAlliance,and Strange Horizons. I also have a website where I write about commentary on and criticism of both pop culture and the fandoms it spawns. (NonFiction Masterlist here)
I’m constantly and currently working on projects for my blog Stitch’s Media Mix that focus on positive and diverse representation in fandom spaces and in the media we consume.
Right now, I’m trying to balance a busy grad school courseload, my part-part time job, and my writing, but I’m still trying super hard to make sure that readers here and elsewhere get good content! Patreon can help make that happen!
Any and all support is welcome and appreciated!
I have a BUNCH of really awesome stuff set to go live on Patreon on the coming weeks (I have a post in progress that’ll go up on HERE tomorrow with the highlights and my very manageable plans!
If you’re interested in becoming a patron, now would be actually the BEST time as Patrons should get charged on the first of the month and a little burst of new Patrons would be AWESOME!