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After spending three years in the Bronx, documenting the life of street addicts, and after countless frustrations – seeing friends relapse, friends beat-up, friends harassed by the police, friends thrown in jail for long stretches for minor offenses, and a friend die – I finally felt that I had done something unquestionably good.

Still, whenever my path detours into kittens, I get an uneasy feeling that helping animals can be a distraction from helping people.

In my time documenting the homeless, I run across stray cats and dogs regularly and, when I write about them or photograph them, I immediately get a flood of responses – one that almost always surpasses my stories and pictures of people.

I do get amazing offers to help people, including donations for blankets, books, socks, clothes and even just money, all of which is appreciated and all of which comes from a very good place. But I just get more interest, both in money and offers to help, when the subject is an animal.

Especially cats.

Why? Because helping animals is ethically easy, and because helping people – especially addicts – is complex and often filled with judgment.

It’s not just that people ask the question, “What if they use the money for drugs?”: it’s the unspoken subtext when people think (and say), “The kittens didn’t do anything wrong. They don’t deserve their plight – they are innocent.”

Implicit in that sentiment is that a homeless addict is not “innocent”, but an agent of his or her own mistakes. It feeds into the stereotype that all addicts are lazy, that they are all weak and that they all lack willpower. It plays into our belief as a society that their fates – addicted to drugs and living under a bridge, for instance – are somehow all their fault.

That narrative is appealing because it allows us to abdicate our collective responsibility for a society – and an underlying set of public policies – that accepts and even ensures that a portion of our society will live on the streets, that some of us will be addicted to drugs, and that some of us will just have to deal with grinding poverty – and the traumas that often follow from it.

It is uncomfortable for many people to contemplate that perhaps homeless addicts are just as smart and just as ethical as anyone else. It requires us to come to realize that maybe “success” (as society defines it) has to do with luck, with being born in the right place and at the right time, and with being subject to laws and law enforcement that are designed to help instead of hurt you.

Toni Morrison (via thisislove)

Posted at 9:05am.

I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.’

Nadine Ijewere is a photographer out of London with an amazing talent for portraiture and fashion photography. She creates  beautiful environments for her work using from floral and cultural influences. I love it all.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Dedicated to the Cultural Preservation of the African Aesthetic

(Source: yagazieemezi)

Posted at 7:08am and tagged with: beautiful people with plants,.

voodouqueen:

Honestly.. When PoC get to an age where they are able to deeply realize and internalize how intensely and directly racism affects them, as well as able to recognize the little racial microaggressions against them, it truly IS a traumatic experience. Its draining and depressing and painful and scarring. It can very easily make you lose the will to do anything or dream anything. And that is something that whites will never experience, thus never understand how deep this goes.

(Source: carribeanheaux)

Posted at 6:57am.

pileofmonkeys:

I have waited tables. I’ve worked in bars. You know who tips well? The working poor, the lower middle class, and people who work or have worked in service industries. You know who tips shitty or not at all? Rich people, upper middle class people, and privileged fuckers who use their “moral opposition” to tipping to be cheap assholes. 

Posted at 6:31am.

(Source: nbga)

Posted at 6:06am.

rahhhr-bia:

I made this zine for my sis on inspirational Japanese people. 

**To my dearest sister Rhiannon,
There is nothing more liberating than 
acceptance and pride of one’s own diversity.**

Posted at 5:51am.

blue1887:

every time i feel anxious i recall zadie smith’s words in white teeth about how no one deserves love all the time, that all we deserve is food, water, and shelter. i do not think she was calling for self-abasement but asking us to make our own way for ourselves, to expect from the world as much as we work to cull from it, and to take losses in stride as an inevitable portion of life’s offerings.

Posted at 2:32am and tagged with: one column,.

If you are female, expressing hatred for your own body is not just acceptable, it’s practically de rigeur. Failure to indulge in the requisite amount of self-flagellation – my thighs! my skin! my face! – isn’t just negligent, it’s unfeminine. Self-hatred is fundamental to how femininity is constructed, more fundamental than any of the more obvious external symbols (dress, make-up, shoes). What matters is not that you are beautiful, but you know your place in the beauty hierarchy (and since every woman ages, every woman’s place will eventually be somewhere at the bottom).

Young women are encouraged to bond over their dislike of excess body hair, surplus flesh and “uneven” skin. They are meant to do so in a jovial way, egged on by perky adverts informing them what “real women” do: worry about having underarms beautiful enough for a sleeveless top, celebrate curves with apologetic booty shakes and cackle ruefully over miserable Sex-and-the-City-style lunches of Ryvita and Dulcolax. It’s a gendered ritual; men get football and booze, women get control pants and detoxes. We are supposed, of course, to be grateful. Hey, you don’t have to be perfect! Just know you’re not perfect and act accordingly, with the appropriate levels of guilt and shame!

Fairy tale after fairy tale tells us that what matters is being beautiful “on the inside” but what does that really mean? It means submission, obedience and the suppression of one’s own desires. Don’t be haughty and proud. Clean the hearth. Kiss the frog. Love the beast. Suck it up when you’re replaced by a younger model. Sure, you may look fine, but you mustn’t feel fine. You mustn’t be vain. You mustn’t be angry. All fury and pain must be turned back on itself. That way you’ll be a real princess: silent, fragile and never threatening to challenge the status quo.