Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

Author: Jillian (page 2 of 195)

A couple of years ago a post I wrote about donating to organizations supporting refugees went viral. I’m hoping I can leverage that same energy for this one to do the same.

Black lives matter. Repeat it till it’s heard.

Fellow white American friends, if you’re wondering what you (we!) can do, here’s a good read. Friends outside of the United States, your solidarity is welcome.

If you have money but not time or physical capacity to put your body on the line, numerous friends have suggested donating to bail funds for activists who do and can. Here’s a list of some in a handful of cities; I’m seeking to compile a more complete list as time goes on, so please leave a note in the comments or email me at jilliancyork [at] riseup [dot] net with further suggestions.

Bay area anti-repression fund: https://rally.org/arcbailfund
Connecticut bail fund: http://yei.yale.edu/connecticut-bail-fund
Bronx freedom fund: http://www.thebronxfreedomfund.org/
Brooklyn community bail fund: http://www.brooklynbailfund.org/
Chicago bail fund: http://chicagobond.org/
Massachusetts bail fund: http://massbailfund.org

Here are some other excellent organizations that are working on racial justice, prison abolition, and other issues related to mass incarceration. Full comments in quotes indicate the suggestion came from a friend or other anonymous source.

Don’t cry, don’t (just) share your prayers. Do something. It’s our responsibility to.

On Father’s Day

This Father’s Day came and went. Inspired by Mohamed Omar, I set out to write about my dad, but I found myself at a loss for words. Instead, frustrated by all of the Father’s Day commercialism on social media, I went to Tierpark, the zoo of former East Germany, and relaxed with a beer and a friend and watched elephants play.

It doesn’t get easier as time goes on, and my feelings have only become more complicated over time. What would my father think of Donald Trump? About Edward Snowden? Why didn’t I ask him about X, Y, or Z when I still had the chance? Would he be annoyed or proud to know I donated money to MSF in his name? The unanswerability of this questions eats at me sometimes.

And then sometimes I’m fine. Far away from my childhood home, my relationship with my mother happy and stable though at a distance, I often feel secure in my new normal. Having reached total self-sufficiency just shortly before I lost my father, it’s as if this phase were an inevitability. I’ve relished that independence, and am proud of my accomplishments.

I was 29 when my father died. I was a pretty awful teenager, but by the time I returned to the Boston area in 2007—the only time in my adult life we lived close by—we were on good footing. When I was in college, he would come visit, and always leave a 12-pack of beer. One time I completely ran out of cash on a snowy drive home and he met me at the Hampton tollbooth, forty-five minutes from home. We bonded on trips to Morocco and Amsterdam, and on visits home in the summer, when we’d get up at the crack of dawn to trawl rich people’s yard sales.

He was proud of me; I know so because he told his nurses. In the end, as his thoughts became more and more delusional (a side effect of his disease), he would tell them about my work and my travels. One time, they asked my mother whether I was really in Tunisia, or if my father had made that up. I was, we laughed through the tears.

A lot of my friends have lost a parent in the past few years. Inevitably, our friends will start to go, too. The brevity of the life cycle and all that. It can make one feel rather…useless.

But here’s what I’ve come to realize: Whether you are optimistic or hopeless about the state of the world, whether you want to throw yourself into trying to change it or sit back to watch it burn, you have to take care of yourself. I don’t mean that an individualistic, each one for their self sort of way. What I mean is, that when it’s tempting to work yourself to the bone or let yourself whither away in front of the television, don’t. Do something nice for yourself, or if you can’t manage that, for someone you care about. Reach out to someone who, for whatever reason (barring egregious harm), you’ve lost touch with. If you have parents you love, call them. If not, call someone else who fits the bill. If you need help, seek it out. And don’t feel guilty for enjoying your time.

I often fall into the latter camp, for what it’s worth. Despite, or sometimes because of my work, I lose hope. But the biggest waste of life, I think, is to spend it angry.

On Facebook’s “suppression” of conservative news

The headlines this week are about Facebook’s “suppression” or “censorship” of conservative news. As Snopes points out, there are two separate things that former employees are (anonymously) accusing Facebook of: The first is the suppression of conservative news topics which, if true, is indeed troubling. If there’s breaking news about say, Ted Cruz, and a Facebook employee “blacklists” or suppresses that information, that calls into question the very premise of Facebook as a source for news, nevermind an unbiased one.

The second accusation is that Facebook is suppressing conservative media. A set of Facebook employees apparently have been hand-selecting trending topics and sources, possibly to train the algorithms to take over later on. In doing so, they have apparently disregarded some sources:

Stories covered by conservative outlets (like Breitbart, Washington Examiner, and Newsmax) that were trending enough to be picked up by Facebook’s algorithm were excluded unless mainstream sites like the New York Times, the BBC, and CNN covered the same stories.

Kelly McBride at Poynter has written a solid piece about the ethics around Facebook’s editorializing of the news.  And editorializing is what we should call it. Putting aside for a moment the important fact that Facebook has been completely opaque about its methods here (and in other areas), ultimately I think we want some editorializing. To some degree, we do want Facebook selecting the sources from which we receive information carefully, otherwise what’s to stop Stormfront from becoming a trending news source? Google also picks and chooses what shows up as news sources, although its big tent includes everything from Snopes.com to the New York Times, Electronic Intifada to The Blaze.

Facebook could do that, or it could be transparent about its methods, and editorialize with reliance on multiple or mainstream coverage of events. Personally, with such transparency, I don’t have a problem with Facebook picking and choosing which sources it relies upon. Such lines have to be drawn somewhere. And just look at how some of the top conservative media have covered this scandal:

 

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These are publications that some people think we should rely on for news. In my view, this is not journalism, this is screeching propaganda. I would stop using Facebook if I saw these headlines start showing up. They’re simply not truthful.

Now, does the so-called liberal media, or even the left media, do the same things sometimes? I won’t deny that. Journalists are human and frankly, objectivity is bullshit. But sites like The Blaze, The Rebel, Fox, and even the New York Post have no interest in truth, and the sooner we muster up the courage to say that out loud, the better.

 

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