this country has gone to shit

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“I can’t believe I witnessed a coup today. It’s really funny – like, I was just there, and saw the girl’s body. I saw a dead girl’s body.”

I’m listening to Brenna on Facetime, skipping the hellos and niceties and jumping straight into her recant of the day’s events. She went to DC this morning with Budi and Dodge to document and witnessed today’s coup herself. Essentially, the white supremacists stormed the Capitol and nothing happened.

I have no words for what happened today. My friend told me last night that she was going to DC to document the Proud Boys protest that was going to happen today, and that it would probably be super dangerous. I agreed. I woke up this morning to Isaac telling me they were storming the Capitol. They weren’t armed, because of DC’s carrying laws, but they came armed with Confederate, Trump, and neo-fascist flags. Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys, was banned from entering DC, and was ordered to be arrested on sight.

Throughout the morning the news got worse and worse. The Proud Boys swarmed the Capitol grounds before breaking into the building. They walked through the halls with their white skin, completely unscathed. They broke into a government building and were met with no force, when just last summer, the National Guard preemptively lined the steps of the Capitol before a BLM protest had even arrived, let alone attempt to enter the building. Later, the Pentagon refused to deploy the National Guard – funny considering that same National Guard was deployed last year to violently disperse a group of protesters from Lafayette Square so Trump could take a photo.

The fascists stormed the building with teargas, fist-fighting with cops, who seemed to engage with their fighting rather than simply suppress them. They looted Pelosi’s office and stood on the dais of the Senate floor. They pulled Chinese scrolls off the walls, photo frames off the shelves, and stuffed things into their bags. They didn’t wear masks.

The problem tonight was not the police. The issue tonight was that the police are on the side of white supremacists, as are the other arms of security in this country, and therefore they failed to register the Proud Boys as a threat and to prepare themselves beforehand. Frankly, the police only serve to protect property but even then, skin color is taken into account when doing so.

Back in NYC tonight, a protest was immediately organized at Trump Tower at 9pm. When they arrived, the NYPD was already out in droves, with bike cops and full riot gear. How were they more ready for a few poeple shouting in the street than state law enforcement was for

The news refuses to call them what they are. This wasn’t a “rally,” or a protest, and they weren’t protesters. They weren’t even just a “mob,” as the NYTimes has resorted to labeling them. They’re simply neo-fascists, with a couple homegrown terrorists thrown into the mix, who committed an attempted coup.

These are the rioters and looters the far-right has been screaming about all summer. These are the people putting lives at risk, not the people breaking down the glass of Fifth Avenue stores in a rise against capitalism. These are the people putting lives at risk, espousing white supremacist values that the government pretends it doesn’t subsist on.

11 pm. The police have stepped up the violence, now that it’s night-time. They began hitting people and attacking them, and it looked more like the police we know.

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disposable diaries #2 // in protest

We’re all protest pros by now. There’s a routine to what we do, to most situations, and we all function as a team.

Jenny and Luis
Cops hogging the sidewalk, where they usually tell us to disperse, even if they’re filling up the whole space
Qween Jean, who will go down in the history textbooks
Luis!
Trans Liberation march in WSP
Nah
One of the funniest people I know…
While holding space at City Hall for hours, slipped away and reappeared with a plate of fried chicken
Pigs behind the barrier

disposable diaries #1 // downtime

It’s month seven of the George Floyd protests. After protests, the group spends time together in parks, sometimes drinking, to take our minds off an intense day. Here are some photos from our downtime as protestors.

Brenna at jail support

Jenny & vodka
After an action, we made our way to Stonewall only to find it overrun by WV yuppies so we found an empty sidewalk instead.
Nah and Grace
Nah scrutinizing Grace trying to guess her sign.
Biggs and Regine
One last smooch before Regine left for Atlanta
Nah and Neptune
Never a dull moment with these two

These two are performers. This snap was caught during an impromptu jam sesh that Neptune and Nah had, where they burst out twerking and rapping Nicki Minaj. We all say Nah is the older version of Jaylin, and this is exactly what Jaylin and Neptune used to do on the long subway rides after actions in the summer back into Manhattan.

Maya doing a headstand
After our City Hall action where the NYPD debuted their new Motor Cross terrorist uniforms
My first time seeing someone relieve stress by doing a headstand

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Protected: a big stress list, or things that happened this week

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MAY 17

16 years ago today, we moved into our house in Westford, Massachusetts.

It is hard to put into words what that house meant to me. At this point, it almost feels like a flashback from a coming-of-age movie. I distinctly remember very specific things, like my pink wallpaper leftover from the past owners, which had pictures of little girls at tea, the massive two-CD stereo my parents gave me that I played my first CDs on and discovered my first favorite songs (It’s My Life by Bon Jovi, later Fergalicious, and also a life-long hatred of the song Time of Your Life by Green Day).

In that playroom, I would put in the CDs I got from somewhere into the big stereo, and listen to the songs one by one and read the song titles. I remember thinking Vitamin C’s Friends Forever was the saddest song ever, but it was about graduating college and wouldn’t affect me until later anyway.

In the playroom, I had my own computer. My dad taught me how to type when I was around 8, and by the time we learned to type in school, I was 10x the ppm of everyone around me. On that computer I learned every tip and trick, including how to bypass my dad’s website restrictions by pasting the url into the document finder on Windows.

In that playroom, I had one side of the fireplace that also faced the living room. I once sat in my Elmo chair and accidentally leaned onto the glass and burned the chair.

In that playroom, I made so much WordArt, so many websites, and wrote so many things.

In the piano room, we had a Christmas tree. I once printed out a list made on WordArt of 15 different things I wanted for Christmas, complete with notes of what I wanted most and things I didn’t really care about. My parents didn’t see it and I ended up getting stockings full of staplers, tape, and more from the store my dad owned at the time.

In the piano room, we had a Steinway piano and red walls, only to have them painted a boring beige when we were selling the house.

In that living room, the walls were green and the carpet was beige. We had four ceiling lights, a stone fireplace with an electric fire, and a big brown leather couch that was sanded from how old it was.

In that living room, we had a beige carpet that our cat once peed on. My dad used orange soap to clean it and my mom yelled at him.

In that living room, I watched OnDemand for hours after school, from the Berenstain (stein) Bears, to Franklin, Dora, Dragon Tales, Suite Life, Disney XD, every single show ever, I’m in a Band, and more.

In that living room, we had a $200 coffee table that lifted up to store things inside and lift the table top to a perfect writing level. It was $200 from Bernie and Phyll’s and I remember sitting next to it when I saw it so that no one else would buy it.

In the master bedroom, I got mad at my mom once and slammed the walk-in closet door on my own foot. I still have the scar to this day.

In that master bedroom, we had a large window facing the side of the house and the opening of the garage. I would get yelled at for jumping because it would bring the house down and I would fall through the floor into the garage. I would also wake up as soon as I heard the garage door open at 7 am and kneel at the window and wail as my mom’s car pulled out of the driveway for work.

In the master bedroom walk-in closet, I made my own forts with no blankets. I brought my favorite stuffed animals and pillow and pretended to live there forever. It was inspired by the Suite Life of Zack and Cody episode where Cody gets mad at Zack and lives in his closet. It was also the spot I retreated to when I got angry and decided to move out of my room and into the walk-in closet.

In that master bedroom, there was a pile of blankets in the corner and I thought I could hide under them and lay down flat and my mom wouldn’t be able to find me during hide-and-seek.

In that master bathroom, I would soak in the jacuzzi for hours, sit in a bin and drive around like a boat, and then sit in a towel next to the heating vent for another hour.

In the playroom, I would take our wireless landline after school and hang out via phone with my best friend Diana, who lived two streets away from me. I didn’t realize how ridiculous it was to stay on the phone for 44 minutes straight until my parents realized what I was doing the fifth time around.

In that house, I stayed at home for the first time, at a time when the legal age to stay at home alone was 13. I felt like I was almost committing a crime and felt like an adult.

In that house, we never used the front door, except for new guests. Everyone else came through the garage door.

In that house, I came home after school when I was older and allowed to be home alone through the garage door, which was locked, then through an unlocked door into the house. I always thought it was unsafe.

In that driveway, we played badminton, hopscotch, kickball, and did scooter tricks.

In that driveway, snow plowing turned into free rides for me in our huge four foot shovel that I sat in and rode down hills of snow.

In that driveway, snow would pile up 3-4 feet in the snowiest winters. One winter we came back from a three-week trip to China and came back to knee-deep snow.

In that front yard, we had a large rock with a tree on the right side that would bloom fiery red in the fall, green in the summer, and purple in the spring, and I would stand on the rock and feel like a king. On the left side, there was another island with an ugly, droopy tree I never played on.

In that front yard, I tried laying in the grass and having fun like they do in TV and in commercials, only to get stabbed by grass and see live insects crawling around me.

In that neighborhood, we were the only house without a signature tree right next to the mailbox, and the only house with a driveway that angled into the side of our house and I thought it made us special.

In that neighborhood, we once drove home one night to find firefighters all over our house. It looked like a scene from Little Fires Everywhere.

In that neighborhood, my best friend lived in a different cul-de-sac. She was one year younger than me and our parents would take turn taking care of us after school because all of our parents worked. When I was in second grade and she was in first grade, we would get angry at each other on the bus ride home and then sprint home and whoever made it there first was “better.” When it snowed we would sled down her front yard. She was family friends with the neighbor, and we would ride sleds down their huge backyard hill during the winter.

In that neighborhood, I would get dropped off at True Bean and Cutter and waddle my way home, past the Flanagans, the Leongs, the Dus, and other neighbors I didn’t know.

In that neighborhood, I would take my flat scooter, which was essentially a skateboard with handles, ride around the block and come to a bigger street in the cul-de-sac that had a slight slope, push as hard as I could with my legs and squat down on the board and fly down the hill.

In that neighborhood, Diana and I once thought it would be an interesting idea to walk from her street to my neighborhood. She was only one street over, but it still took about 60 seconds by car to arrive. One day after school we walked through her backyard, through leaves and trees until we hit the backyard of one of my neighbors, only to realize we had to cross the private property of someone I’d never met. We hopped over their low fence, sprinted through their backyard, into their front yard, and onto the road, and got to my house.

Another time we skipped the backyard walk and went straight onto the main road. We were right outside the entrance of my neighborhood when my family’s car pulled up and my dad yelled at me for being outside and we pretended we were picking rocks.

Even for years after we moved I had fever dreams where I explored the house only to find new rooms, tripping down stairs with no rails, and even woke up, expecting to be lying in a bed, facing a wall with the door to the left, pink walls and dark pink curtains to the right, only to open my eyes to a white room with the door on the right and brown curtains on the left. I woke up at 6 to take the 6:55 bus so I could take the hour-long bus ride to school, after taking 15 minute rides to Robinson and Crisafulli.

In that town, there was a lane leading to a vast neighborhood that I had only ever gotten glimpses of, filled with mansions and houses unlike the rest of the town. Only years after we had moved and gone back to visit did we stumble upon it again and drive in, and it really was full of million-dollar houses.

In that library, I would find every single magazine I wanted, every single book I wanted, go into the kids section even though I was in middle school, and check out 25 items at once. I would pile them into the backseat of the car and go through them at home. When I got older I had to move to the older kids’ section, where there was a place to work, and got my first taste of a college workspace.

MAY 2: DAY 51 OF QUARANTINE

I applied to two jobs today and started a new TV show. I bought a Nintendo Switch, Mario Kart 8 and Animal Crossing, a handmade sweatshirt from my friend.

“Auschwitz” is trending on Twitter today, for this reason:

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Huntington Beach reopened.

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APRIL 30: DAY 49 OF QUARANTINE

This happened today.

White privilege is something we can’t escape from, and it is definitely something we can’t avoid even in quarantine. I wrote about this in the previous post, but the privilege evident from these protests is unsurprising yet astonishing.

The scenes might revoke scenes from the Charlottesville, Virginia protest in 2017. It looks like scenes out of a movie, or a dystopia. But no, it is just our fellow Americans, guns in hand.

Two things about these policemen:

First, they have to drag their bodies out each morning to make sure the population is safe. When we call 911, we expect someone to be on the other end. That work doesn’t stop in a lockdown. Sadly, they have to deal with being an essential worker as an inbred Neo-Nazi spits in their faces with only a cloth to protect themselves.

Second, the police are barely touching these people with guns who are shouting directly in their faces. Need I not remind you of Eric Garner, Cynthia Brown, Trayvon Martin…. The list literally goes on of innocent black people who were dragged, beaten, defamed, and murdered at the hands of police officers whose racism overclouded any sense of judgment as a civil worker.

These protesters need to be called what they are: terrorists.

The media is used to labeling these people incorrectly, largely because of their skin color. If a brown or black man showed up at your state capitol with a gun, they would likely not be alive right now.

Coronavirus: Asian Americans across Bay Area, U.S. report 1,500 racist incidents in a month

APRIL 25: DAY 44 OF QUARANTINE

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(Posting late again! It’s actually April 29)

A Polarized Pandemic

A pandemic is defined as “a global outbreak of disease” by the CDC. It is not limited to its origin country, and it can affect anyone in all places, and it certainly crosses party lines.

Despite this, America has fallen into the trap of polarization yet again. It is intriguing watching America give into its usual pattern of partisanship even in the wake of something so universally impactful as a pandemic.

Many on the Trump right and residents in red states have taken to the pandemic a personal issue. In the wake of the pandemic, government stay-at-home orders have led to a drastic increase in the number of people filing for unemployment.

Protests have popped up all across the country, in Texas, Indiana, New Hampshire, Nevada, Maryland, Utah, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Michigan, Minnesota, Idaho, Kentucky, and California.

These residents have responded to such orders with anger and protest, calling for the right to return to work and refusing to listen to orders to stay at home. Here are protestors at the Michigan state capitol (note the guns, and the whiteness):

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Another in Wisconsin:

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In Michigan, an ambulance was blocked because of the cars from people joining the protests:

Behind the Protests

The loss of jobs is indeed something that incites anger. People have lost their livelihoods and sources of income. However, when we take a closer look at the message of these protests, we find a much deeper and complex situation behind the scenes.

First, jobs aren’t the only thing being fought here. The signs these people hold and the things they shout aren’t always to do with jobs. People have screamed “We don’t want communism” and “If you want communism, go to China.” It’s a simple reduction that has been made since McCarthyism: the quick equation of bad as communism. In the meantime, they do nothing in the face of their president’s draconian actions and despotic behavior, let alone his public friendships with dictators.

Second, it is an unnecessary politicization of a non-political issue. The virus is a medical issue, not a political hoax from one side of Congress. The protesters’ neutrality evaporated as soon as they flew their Trump and C*nfederate flags with them. The loss of jobs is by no means exclusive to Republicans or people of the states involved, or to the small percentage of people protesting. The problem is evidently rooted in something other than simply jobs.

Third, these protests exemplify privilege because many people are still at work. While the protestors call for their right to work, essential workers continue to fight on the frontlines because others can’t. They have to do so for cities to open up sooner than later. The protesters’ calls for the freedom to work prove they don’t realize the privilege they have to drive around all day screaming hell-bent instead of packing groceries for strangers.

Fourth, it’s not clear that the priorities of the protestors are to return to work themselves. When reporters spoke to protesters directly, people complained to that they needed a haircut and their nails done. This begs the question, do they want to go back to work, or do they want others to go to work?

Fifth, there is also the belief that these protests are substitutes for Trump rallies. Because rallies can’t be held at this time, and there is no way for the Cheeto to conjure his followers, they’ve somehow managed to do it themselves. Why else would they wave Trump flags while protesting their governors?

Sixth, there is evidence that many of these protests are funded and encouraged by billionaires. These people have organized such protests to look like grassroots events while offering to bail out anyone arrested. This process is called astroturfing, where the sponsors of an event manipulate the message to appear grassroots. The groups that organized the Michigan protests share a financial connection with Betsy Devos, who is the secretary of education in the White House. If the campaign to open America were to be successful, the Devos’ would no doubt see benefit in their financial investments. At the expense of regular, middle-class residents, the billionaires can push the economy to open early, sell their products, or however they make their money, all without the risk of public backlash. Thus the protests might not be about COVID-19 after all; rather, they are simply a chess piece for the ultra-rich.

There’s no bleaker image of capitalism than residents of poor rural towns protesting their “right” to go back to work at the behest of billionaires.

Reports say that the South is going to see a spike in cases in the coming weeks. New York and other early-exposed places have already reached a plateau in new cases, although not nearly a sharp decline. Governor Desantis has even reopened beaches in Florida.

Trump’s Back and Forth

As this was occurring, Trump began to tout his total authority as president during his press conferences. On April 13, he claimed that a president has total authority.

Four days later, he began tweeting in support of the COVID protests.

In a series of three tweets, he commended the actions of the protesters in Michigan, Virginia, and Minnesota and even asserted their 2nd amendment rights, which has nothing to do with anything. If he touted total authority, why was he allowing protesters to fight the stay-at-home order enforced in his country?

Five days later, Trump disagreed with the Georgia governor’s plans to open the state’s economy again. Again – a president with self-proclaimed total authority supports protests in his country and then proceeds to go against what those protests were for.

For a “war-time president,” as he calls it, he sure seems to be inciting violence himself.

The Whiteness of the Protests

There is an important racial contrast to draw in light of these protests. The people protesting these orders evidently did not come at peace. They touted GUNS on the steps of their state capitol, blocked ambulances from getting to hospitals, and screamed slurs and threatened violence. Vox wrote a piece on how the protests are an exemplification of white privilege. Very little news has been made of arrests, and that’s because there is only one. A single woman in North Carolina was arrested.

The contrast lies in how these white people, carrying guns protesting a life-saving shutdown in the midst of a pandemic, have not suffered a single fingerprint from a police officer, while black men and women get beaten and shot for no less than “looking” dangerous to a cop while on a Sunday stroll. These protesters are the same ones who cry mercy when Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality and burned their Nike socks when the company supported him.

The protesters see themselves as the true patriots but they only take American values when they serve white lives.

A CNN interview with Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman also went viral for her absurd comments on the virus that are along the lines of the “liberate protests.” In the interview with an exasperated Anderson Cooper, she explains that she wants Vegas to reopen for the millions of people who have lost their jobs and that she offered Vegas to be a control group for non-social distancing vs. the virus.

The inevitable power grab is also coming, as Trump announced his plans to suspend green cards. There is no better time to quickly pass through what you have always wanted to pass than in a crisis.

However, essential workers and hospital workers are exempt from this sudden change and can receive green cards, as well as their family members. This points to how immigrants, including ones without legal documents, are the barebone of our society and continue to work for us as we stay home, but are only valuable as capital. They are characters in his racist rants – rapists and terrorists, no less – but “essential workers” when a person with a document needs them for delivery.

There is even outcry for Governor Newsom’s new fund for undocumented immigrants, calling out “free handouts” for people who live on state money. The truth could not be further. People not eligible for unemployment funds would receive $400 each. This came in light of the Trump admin’s denial of immigrants without legal status from receiving the $1200 stimulus fund. Undocumented immigrants in California, who made up 10% of the population, paid a total of $2.5 billion in taxes the last year – the fund totals $125 million.

APRIL 3: DAY 22 OF QUARANTINE

Corona count: 278,000 cases, 7152 deaths. Haven’t been outside in two days

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After noticing how brown my bananas were getting, even after I’d chucked them into the fridge to halt their riping, I decided I had to use them up with some recipe. I have seen a lot of two-ingredient pancake recipes and decided that was a good idea for a quick breakfast today.

I know my photos make them look sad, disgusting, and more like scrambled eggs than pancakes, but they were delicious, and also really fun to make and eat. It feels like you’re doing a lot more than you actually are making fifteen 2-inch pancakes.

These were super simple. I cut up a banana and then mashed it up in a bowl until it wasn’t lumpy anymore, and then put in 1/8 teaspoons of baking powder and salt, and then 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder. Those three things aren’t necessary but they make it more pancake-y than they would without. After that I poured in two whisked eggs and mixed that together.

At this point, the mixture looks like it’s all eggs and I was skeptical how they would turn out. But when I put spoonfuls onto the pan they turned into pancake-looking things. They don’t taste like eggs or bananas, and they might look burnt but they were still super soft (too soft, actually). I didn’t have maple syrup so I drizzled honey over it.