What I’ve Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings

What I’ve Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings (Gawker)

“I started to search in earnest. Nowhere could I find out how many people died during interactions with police in the United States. Try as I might, I just couldn’t wrap my head around that idea. How was it that, in the 21st century, this data wasn’t being tracked, compiled, and made available to the public? How could journalists know if police were killing too many people in their town if they didn’t have a way to compare to other cities? Hell, how could citizens or police? How could cops possibly know ‘best practices’ for dealing with any fluid situation? They couldn’t.

The bottom line was that I found the absence of such a library of police killings offensive. And so I decided to build it. I’m still building it. But I could use some help. You can find my growing database of deadly police violence here, at Fatal Encounters, and I invite you to go here, research one of the listed shootings, fill out the row, and change its background color. It’ll take you about 25 minutes. There are thousands to choose from, and another 2,000 or so on my cloud drive that I haven’t even added yet. After I fact-check and fill in the cracks, your contribution will be added to largest database about police violence in the country. Feel free to check out what has been collected about your locale’s information here.

The biggest thing I’ve taken away from this project is something I’ll never be able to prove, but I’m convinced to my core: The lack of such a database is intentional. No government—not the federal government, and not the thousands of municipalities that give their police forces license to use deadly force—wants you to know how many people it kills and why.”

I spent some time looking through Fatal Encounters this morning, and I am incredibly impressed by the time and commitment journalist D. Brian Burghart has poured into this website. It deeply disturbs me that no official government database exists. However, this is a perfect example of someone seeing a problem and not just acknowledging it, but working towards a solution. In the wake of Ferguson and the on-going national conversation on race and police violence, the importance of this project cannot be understated.

#whyistayed “I Can Handle It”: On Relationship Violence, Independence, and Capability

#whyistayed (trending on Twitter) // Why Janay Rice stayed (Feministe) 

I didn’t want to have a failed marriage at 25 I didn’t want my daughter to think this was ok and normal

I didn’t want to be alone again I didn’t want to be alone in a casket

: Kept telling myself if he didn’t hit me, it wasn’t abuse : Learned I didn’t have to get beaten to fear for my life.

“If you think about what keeps you in a relationship people to your life that are healthy relationships: your friends, your family, your coworkers, all of those components whether it’s money, love, history, you’re related to this person, you have kids with this person because you live together, because they care about you, because they were there for you, etc, etc. All those things are the very same reasons why women in those situations won’t leave. The good things can also be the reasons why you stay in a bad relationships. So it’s not about, ‘Well, she should’ve just left.’ It’s never that simple or that easy if they have children together, if he’s the only source of income in the family, if she has strong religious beliefs about marriage or what it means to be a good girlfriend or wife, all these things, which you can’t really separate out from the others, play a role.”

The Disposable Woman (The New York Times, March 2011)

“It’s these sorts of explicit and implicit value judgments that underscore our contempt for women who are assumed to be trading on their sexuality. A woman’s active embrace of the fame monster or participation in the sex industry, we seem to say, means that she compromises her right not to be assaulted, let alone humiliated, insulted or degraded; it’s part of the deal. The promise of a modern Cinderella ending — attention, fame, the love and savings account of a rich man — is always the assumed goal. Objectification and abuse, it follows, is not only an accepted occupational hazard for certain women, but something that men like Mr. Sheen have earned the right to indulge in.”

“I Can Handle It”: On Relationship Violence, Independence, and Capability (Feministe, August 2011)

“When we imagine abuse, we envision the act of abusing: the woman crouching on the floor, a flying fist, a sailing kick. Perhaps my remembrance of that time would be different if my abuse had been more prolonged, or more severe, but what I recall from that era of my life is not moments of violence but feeling as though I were separated from the world, swaddled in a thick layer of invisible cloth that I couldn’t ever swat away. I was in a fog.

Which is to say: I was in many ways incapable of helping myself—which, even years later, pains me to say. But there it is: The fog of abuse ensured that my emotions, instincts, and principles were muted; every ounce of energy I had went into my relationship and keeping up the general appearance of sanity. Had you somehow been able to land my healthy, normal status-quo self smack-dab into the worst of my relationship, I’d have gotten out immediately. That’s not how abuse works, of course. Abuse is gradual; abuse is systemic. Abuse changes you; abuse reduces you. Abuse took the me out of me.”

Ray Rice Video Sets Off Barrage of Conversations (audio from NPR’s Morning Edition)

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the ongoing national conversation on domestic violence that was spurred on by the Ray Rice video, I would encourage you to read the above essays, articles & tweets. Listen to the audio. Take the time to analyze your own reactions. Keep in mind,

“More than one in three women have experienced sexual assault, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey.” (CNN)

So when we ask ourselves, “why did she stay?” remember that we’re asking on behalf of our friends, family, and co-workers. These are not “those” women. These are our loved ones.

Culture of blaming the victim is root cause of failure for NFL, Ravens in Ray Rice case

Culture of blaming the victim is root cause of failure for NFL, Ravens in Ray Rice case (Yahoo! Sports)

“This undue process happened because it was comforting to think there were two sides to this story. Many people didn’t really want to see that video. They wanted to believe Rice was attacked by Palmer and did something to warrant being punched in the face. From the moment part of the video became public over the summer until Monday morning, it was easy to put some blame on Janay Palmer.

The woman always gets the burden of proof and the burden of pain. The woman is always cast as the gold digger, the mentally imbalanced stalker, the inappropriate dresser. The woman is always the provocateur.

If Palmer didn’t have her privacy invaded – if Rice’s punch happened in their non-videotaped home – he would still be a hero and she would still be the hero’s suffering wife.

Place the blame on any institution here: the Panthers or Ravens, the NFL, the legal system, or the media. But this isn’t an institutional failure. It’s a societal failure. We don’t believe women. We think they’re wrong and we have to be convinced they are right. It took weeks of humiliation and a videotape before Janay Palmer got some justice, and it isn’t much justice.”

We need to take a good, long look at ourselves, at our culture, at our values, and decide what kind of world we want to live in. Is a star football player really more valuable than a woman’s life and well-being? How much longer are we going to accept this narrative of blaming the victim? When are we going to start holding men accountable?

Jennifer Lawrence Nude Photo Leak Isn’t A “Scandal.” It’s A Sex Crime.

Jennifer Lawrence Nude Photo Leak Isn’t A “Scandal.” It’s A Sex Crime. (Forbes)

“As most of you probably know, someone somewhere dumped a deluge of purported nude photographs of a number of female celebrities online yesterday…

Ms. Lawrence and the other victims have absolutely nothing to apologize for in terms of the contents of the photos or the nature in which they were leaked. The story itself should not be addressed as if it were a scandal, but rather what it is: A sex crime involving theft of personal property and the exploitation of the female body.

Outlets as mainstream as People and CNN are referring to the photo leak as a ‘scandal.’ All due respect, it’s not a scandal. The actresses and musicians involved did nothing immoral or legally wrong by choosing to take nude pictures of themselves and put them on their personal cell phones. You may argue, without any intended malice, that it may be unwise in this day-and-age to put nude pictures of yourself on a cell phone which can be act and/or stolen. But without discounting that statement, the issue is that these women have the absolute right and privilege to put whatever they want on their cell phones with the expectation that said contents will remain private or exclusive to whomever is permitted to see them just like their male peers. The burden of moral guilt is on the people who stole said property and on those who chose to consume said stolen property for titillation and/or gratification.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

‘Orange’ Showrunner Jenji Kohan on Hollywood’s Pay Inequality, ‘F— You’ Money and Her ‘Friends’ Regrets

‘Orange’ Showrunner Jenji Kohan on Hollywood’s Pay Inequality, ‘F— You’ Money and Her ‘Friends’ Regrets

“It began at the family dinner table, where Kohan, the youngest of three, fought for attention among comedy giants — her father, Buz, a king of variety shows; her brother David, a creator of Will & Grace. As she entered her teens, she was the quirky misfit in a privileged Beverly Hills community. And later, when she joined the family business and wrote more than a dozen pilot scripts that never aired, she fought for recognition in a network system where she lacked both the commercial sense and the capacity — or desire — to be politic.

But as she sits on this day in her spacious office in the heart of Hollywood, news of Orange is the New Black’s 12 Emmy nominations — the biggest haul of any comedy contender — still fresh, it’s not hard to see that she finally has attained the respect and acclamation she has spent her lifetime chasing. And in the evolving landscape of premium television, where a Netflix dramedy can live as far out on the edge as her imagination does, Kohan has become the establishment.”

Anytime I can share a profile of a strong, fabulous, trailblazing, not to mention rainbow-haired woman, I will. Also, I find insider Hollywood stories irresistible.

Viola Davis Gets Groundbreaking Role As ABC Bets On Diversity

Viola Davis Gets Groundbreaking Role As ABC Bets On Diversity

“A lot of the questions I get about race are really annoying,” [Shonda] Rhimes said. “I get a lot of ‘Why is it so hard to cast people of color?’ questions. My answer is always ‘Why are you asking me that question? Why don’t you ask someone who is not casting people of color? … I would rather you just look at the work. Because the world of television should look like the world outside.”

The fact is, Hollywood has found it extremely difficult to cast people of color as stars in TV shows. Forget about Seinfeld or HBO’s Girls presenting a New York that seems mostly devoid of nonwhite people; even ABC’s fall comedy Manhattan Love Story has few nonwhite supporting characters, despite its setting in one of the most diverse cities in the nation.

Looming in the background is a question you would think TV had settled years ago: Will mostly white network television audiences watch shows with mostly nonwhite casts and subject matter?

I am tired of this question. If it’s a well-written show, especially if it’s starring Viola Davis, I will, as a white person, watch it. In fact, I will go out of my way to watch this show. So there, Network Television Execs. Take that.

World Cup Soccer Stats Erase The Sport’s Most Dominant Players: Women

World Cup Soccer Stats Erase The Sport’s Most Dominant Players: Women

Only one thing mars my enjoyment of watching the World Cup, and it’s the absence of one small word. Just a tiny qualifier in a statistic that really should be corrected as our men’s team continues to gain respect internationally. So I ask the American commentators, please stop announcing that Landon Donovan is the “all-time U.S. leading goal scorer.” He is not. With 57 international goals, he’s not even in the Top Five.

The all-time U.S. leading goal scorer is Abby Wambach, with 167 goals, followed by Mia Hamm (158), Kristine Lilly (130), Michelle Akers (105) and Tiffeny Milbrett (100). In fact, Abby Wambach is the all-time leading goal scorer in the world, among all soccer players, male or female.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Landon Donovan has achieved. It is commendable. But every time he sits there, silently allowing that phrase to be rattled off — “all-time leading U.S. goal scorer” — without pointing out that he is the all-time leading men’s goal scorer, it does take away from what Abby Wambach and Mia Hamm have achieved — total world domination.

In sports like tennis and gymnastics, where the U.S. women clearly outstrip their male counterparts, no one talks about the men’s statistics without that clarifier. Why is soccer different? Why are almost all other sports different? Why do people consistently claim that Mike Krzyzewski is the winningest coach in college basketball when he is still 115 wins behind Pat Summit, with a significantly lower win percentage (his .763 to her .841)? How hard would it be to simply slip the word “men’s” into the conversation, if nothing else, in the interest of accuracy?

Really great feminist analysis. What I love most about this article is how she ties the coverage of the World Cup to the corporate world, to politics, and to other sporting events. Her writing is very straightforward and easy to understand; the parallels she’s drawing are clear.