Activism Future Building

Police Scorecard

Bookmarked Police Scorecard (Police Scorecard)

The Police Scorecard evaluates police departments based on quantitative data on arrests, use of force, accountability and other policing issues to make progress towards more just and equitable policing outcomes.

Disappointed to see how poorly my city’s police department scores on data. In 2018 (?) a blatantly racist interaction with police got a lot of publicity here (fortunately no one was harmed, and the racism was more on the people who called the police but the police could have declined to respond). After that, the PD made a lot of nice words and gestures, including investigating body cams. But the overall rating is on par with Seattle’s, which is notoriously bad — I’ll never forget the Native American woodcarver the Seattle police murdered for having a knife in 2010 — and the per capita funding is higher than most communities (🤔 though do they adjust for cost of living differences? I wouldn’t expect an officer’s salary in WA to be the same as in KS for example).

The “incident” certainly raised the public’s awareness and interest in dealing with racism (at least on a superficial level — still plenty of NIMBYism over housing), and spurred changes in the administrative side of the government, so something positive did come out of it even if the police didn’t actually change much. The entire city government also received training on racism and bias. I think the police got more than City Hall folks like me, though I wasn’t super impressed by the half-day training I got, which focused on the metaphor that the US isn’t a melting pot (homogeneous) but a stew (lots of ingredients). That feels like barely enough to even start talking about the issue.

See also: An interactive advocacy website about police

Business Society The Internet

Pairing: business values

Substack CEO Chris Best Doesn’t Realize He’s Just Become The Nazi Bar (TechDirt) by Mike Masnick

If you’re not going to moderate, and you don’t care that the biggest draws on your platform are pure nonsense peddlers preying on the most gullible people to get their subscriptions, fucking own it, Chris.

Say it. Say that you’re the Nazi bar and you’re proud of it.

Say “we believe that writers on our platform can publish anything they want, no matter how ridiculous, or hateful, or wrong.” Don’t hide from the question. You claim you’re enabling free speech, so own it. Don’t hide behind some lofty goals about “freedom of the press” when you’re really enabling “freedom of the grifters.”

You have every right to allow that on your platform. But the whole point of everyone eventually coming to terms with the content moderation learning curve, and the fact that private businesses are private and not the government, is that what you allow on your platform is what sticks to you. It’s your reputation at play.

This is also where Twitter is going. I think Musk would be fine with either outcome: driving Twitter to bankruptcy or driving out all the liberals and turning it into 4chan with a veneer of carryover trustworthiness.

(See also: Controlling the information platforms, controlling the information)

I don’t get it. Are there that many Nazis that these businesses think that’s a better long-term business audience than… everyone else? Because no one wants to hang out at the Nazi bar besides Nazis. Or are they worried their VC funding will dry up if they don’t allow Nazis? Because Substack’s already dried up…

I’d bet Substack thinks they can somehow pull off the rewards of social media without accepting the responsibility. They looked at their shrinking budget and said, you know what? It doesn’t matter if we enable genocide, because we can’t afford quality moderation, but without this shiny new sell the company will fold. And what are the odds we’ll actually support a genocide?


We should all be embarrassed that companies in the entertainment industry are taking leadership positions on pushing back against fascism, while companies involved in journalism, education, and publishing, are taking the collaborator stance.

The parts of society that everyone promised would save us from fascism, are failing. The parts of society that the Very Serious People ™ saw as frivolous pastimes, are providing more truth and safety.

This is the Teen Vogue’ification of the world.

— Mekka Okereke
Apr 15, 2023, 09:44

The example he highlights of Scholastic preemptively censoring material is exactly as Tim Snyder calls out in On Tyranny: compliance in advance. There are no actual restrictions on explaining that Japanese internment was the result of racism, but Scholastic is vaguely concerned it could be “bad for business” because the topic of racism has become controversial to conservatives who don’t want to talk about bad things white people did to people of color in the past (especially in ways that highlight those continuing practices)… basically showing Scholastic doesn’t actually care about their purported value of inclusion, and is more scared of conservative book bans than public outcry from liberals over their censorship (which is exactly what they’ve gotten — and tbh now the book has gotten so much attention it will certainly be included in book bans and boycotts). Essentially, in censoring this book they’ve gotten the worst of all outcomes: they’ve tarnished their brand among liberals and drawn a lot of attention to this particular book so it’ll be on the conservative’s radar for book bans. If they don’t publish it now liberals cry censorship, and if they do conservatives push against it.

You can’t appease both fascists and their victims at the same time. You have to choose.

— Mekka Okereke
Apr 15, 2023, 09:39

Political Commentary

Distortion and distraction

Replied to Tennessee House votes to expel 2 of 3 Democratic members over gun protest (

House Speaker Cameron Sexton compared the incident to Jan. 6: “What they did today was equivalent, at least equivalent, maybe worse depending on how you look at it, to doing an insurrection in the State Capitol,” he said.

Misconstruing words and intentions is an integral tool for fascists, reflected in the importance of ‘doublethink’ in Orwell’s 1984. Here, a powerful politician pretends not to be aware of the difference between a peaceful protest and an insurrection. With his comparison, he equates using a megaphone and peacefully occupying a space (potentially on recess?) with showing up at the nation’s capital with weapons and zipties while calling for the head of the politician charged with peacefully transferring power from one elected leader to the next. The silenced, disenfranchised populace making themselves heard by the politicians theoretically representing them (but not due to horrendous gerrymandering) are equivalent to a lynch mob seeking to subvert the will of the people by blocking execution of electoral results. At once, he is dismissing the validity of protest and making protest out to be more dangerous than it is. Casting protest as something alarming rather than a very American exercise of First Amendment rights — particularly when led by two young Black men.

(This is the perspective that makes Feedly’s new AI tool lumping together protests and riots alarming.)

Having conflated a minor rules violation with a treasonous attack, he could justify subverting democratic representation by casting out the troublemakers under the guise of decorum. He can claim to be on the side of democracy by dismissing the democratic tactic of protest as disruptive to the legislative process of “representative” democracy, and may righteously return to ignoring gun control now that he has invalidated the protestors and distracted from the purpose of their protest.

Society Technology

Hiding the harm

Liked Smoke screen by Mandy Brown (A Working Library)

…[F]ears about so-called AIs eventually exceeding their creators’ abilities and taking over the world function to obfuscate the very real harm these machines are doing right now, to people that are alive today.

Another way this story works is that it embeds a notion of a hierarchy of intelligence within it… embedded within the dominant notion of intelligence is the assertion that certain kinds of intelligence are gendered and racialized, and therefore inferior.

To expand on this, the fear that some people may lose their superior status to a machine is the same fear that they may lose it to people they already deem inferior. It’s part and parcel of a blowback against human rights being extended to Black people, to women, to trans folks, to the disabled, to everyone they long assumed was deservedly less worthy (of money, care, attention, or respect) than themselves.

Ooh pulling it all together 👀

Activism History

Went to The History of Exclusion on the Eastside

We invite you to take a deep dive into the history of East King County through a racial equity, transportation, and affordable housing lens.

The past and the present are connected; we will explore the ways that past practices, policies, and laws have contributed to the housing struggles and inequities communities face today in Eastside cities.

We’ll learn about ACTIONS we can take together to advocate for equitable solutions in land use, transportation, and affordable housing policy.

  • Japanese immigrants began farming in Bellevue in 1890s — cleared a lot of spaces that had been forested for farming and future development — book Strawberry Days
  • Black workers at the Kirkland shipyards weren’t allowed to live in Eastside housing and had to take the slow ferry from Seattle
  • Washington State 1921 Alien Land Law banned the sale of land to Japanese people and Asians
    • I see echoes here in banning Chinese people  from buying real estate “here” / Vancouver if they’re not going to live in it — housing should be made available to rent but they should still be allowed to buy
  • Japanese people sent to internment via trains on Eastrail 😬
    • I had thought it was all through the Puyallup / Auburn fairgrounds
  • Race covenants across the Eastside, exclusionary zoning keeps housing costs high and encourages suburban development patterns
  • Community Councils keeping veto power over land use laws to “maintain community character” — YES THE HOUGHTON CC IS FINALLY GONE!!! 👏👏👏
  • In 2019, 44% of Bellevue residents spoke a language besides English! That’s compared to 14% in 1990.

Eastside for All

Livable Kirkland


Guide to intervening as a bystander


The 5Ds are different methods – Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, and Direct – that you can use to support someone who’s being harassed, emphasize that harassment is not okay, and demonstrate to people in your life that they have the power to make their community safer.

The keys to good Distraction are:

1. Ignore the person who is harassing, and engage directly with the person who is being harassed.

2. Don’t talk about or refer to the harassment that’s happening.

Future Building Political Commentary Society

Public spending needs context

Replied to

It’s easy to scoff at big projects and think they’re wasting tons of money, but there are valid reasons public projects cost a lot.

People are not good at thinking at scale. Even small roads through neighborhoods are like 25 feet wide, yeah it’s going to cost a bit to maintain an entire city’s roads. It’s also overwhelming how many people live near you who are sharing those costs — my city doesn’t feel that big, but 90,000 people live here, over 40,000 households.

I saw an article recently complaining that it takes way longer to build things now than in the past. Some of that is staffing limitations causing permitting delays, yes. *cough* I don’t hear the same people calling for higher development fees to cover increased staffing *cough* But some delays come from public process requirements. It’s important to give people a chance to hear about and comment on projects that will affect them — as much as I hate NIMBYs, in the past a lack of public process has allowed racist development decisions, so public process is important for equity. There are also environmental permitting requirements — so many impacts are externalities that the community will bear the costs of rather than the developer, so it seems fair to ask developers to evaluate and limit those impacts upfront. Inspections and plan review are also needed, because whatever gets built now, people will have to use for decades to come, and shortcuts can have bad long-term impacts, and cost-cutting can increase a building’s carbon footprint for its lifespan.

Government is concerned with protecting the public good, whereas developers are focused on the bottom line. Yes, if we let developers do whatever they wanted they’d make more money — and we’d get a city with no trees, mostly paved so rain runoff is terrible and streams become unlivable for fish, built using the cheapest (and likely most carbon-intensive) materials.

The bigger issue is that people seem to have lost touch with doing things for the common good — back to our society’s toxic individualism. The same attitude that makes people reluctant to pay for programs they don’t use also makes them reluctant to do things that benefit others at little cost to themselves, like wearing masks on public transportation.


When is it no longer an emergency?

Bookmarked How to Live With Covid by Jonathan Rauch (Persuasion)

The emergency is over. It’s time to pivot to preparedness.

I am not convinced we are yet out of emergency stage. The number of people getting sick, dying, and becoming disabled from Long Covid is a toll yet to be fully judged.

The number of people unvaccinated worldwide is appalling considering we’ll keep getting more and more strains as so many remain susceptible to infection, and that the death rate is much higher for unvaccinated. Together that makes the perspective that the emergency is past feel pretty America-centric.

Maybe it depends what it means to no longer consider something an emergency – but the word itself conveys and musters urgency that is hard to maintain for “normal,” even a “new normal.” Will we lose urgency… how much urgency do we even have now? Does it matter how urgent the public thinks something is as long as the public health folks are hard at it? I feel like it does since the public judges spending and priorities and what politicians will spend their political capital on. It will be a mistake to forget that pandemic means global, and this is a situation where the worst level affects everyone’s level. (Network effect?)

As soon as we accept that this is how it will be, that we’re ok living like this forever, we lose the chance for a cultural conversation about what we should change to acknowledge the return to endemic disease like we had pre-1950s. Smallpox, measles, polio – we knew then these were unacceptable and worked to eradicate them to protect our people.

To me, the bare minimum our society should have to live forever with a deadly endemic disease includes universal healthcare and paid sick leave requirements. To not offer those knowing the disparity in health coverage and access and outcomes between class and race is frankly horrifying. We sacrifice the poor, Black, Hispanic, and indigenous on the altar of capitalism in the shrine of toxic individualism.


Questions to ask before writing about other cultures

Bookmarked How to Unlearn Everything by Alexander Chee (Vulture)

“Do you have any advice for writing about people who do not look like you?” … Given all the excellent writing about the challenges of rendering otherness, someone who asks this question in 2019 probably has not done the reading. But the question is a Trojan horse, posing as reasonable artistic discourse when, in fact, many writers are not really asking for advice — they are asking if it is okay to find a way to continue as they have. They don’t want an answer; they want permission. Which is why all that excellent writing advice has failed to stop the question thus far.

In general, the beginner fiction that writers produce is what they think a story looks like. Those stories are often not really stories — they are ways of performing their relationship to power.

  • Why do you want to write from this character’s point of view?
  • Do you read writers from this community currently?
  • Why do you want to tell this story?

So when I meet with those beginner students to discuss their first stories, I ask them to think of stories only they can write. Stories they know but have never read anywhere. Stories they always tell but never write down.

Food History Political Commentary Reflection

Rethinking “Grandma’s Food”

Replied to The Fallacy of Eating The Way Your Great-Grandmother Ate by Virginia Sole-Smith (Burnt Toast by Virginia Sole-Smith)

We cannot idolize their nutrition while ignoring the classism, racism, and misogyny on their tables.

A return to home-grown bounty and scratch cooking requires an investment of time and labor from someone. And because we live in a society that cannot reckon with how much this has cost, and continues to cost us, it takes a phenomenal level of privilege to either be that someone or hire that someone.”

I am really appreciating how Virginia Sole-Smith makes me rethink my attitudes about food. I’ve internalized a lot of cultural expectations that made me feel like I need to cook dinner every day from whole food ingredients or I’m letting down myself and my family and the caregiver mentality for women that I’m “supposed” to provide nutritious meals for me and my husband. I know I’m a food snob, but I’m trying to get better. Giving thought to the underlying classism and other gross -isms behind our food judgments helps me throw out the garbage ideas.

I do also believe in supporting a local food economy, and have the discretionary income to do so, so I do like to buy from local farmers. But also remembering that I work and have important hobbies and value spending time with friends — and recognizing whole food cooking requires a ton of work that people (women) used to either have to spend a ton of time preparing, or (under-)paid servants to do for them — so using shortcut ingredients or making simple meals or ordering takeout is totally legit. If cooking food comes out as a lower priority than my other activities I enjoy more, that’s a fair choice. Especially when a lot of our food judgments are tied in with fatphobia. Society wouldn’t think less of my husband for not cooking us fresh meals every day, so I don’t need to take that expectation on myself. I like baking, I don’t especially like cooking, why make myself do something I can afford not to?

I’m going to try thinking of my restaurant costs, DoorDash fees and driver tips as a feminism fee and redistributing my money to people who have to do gig work.

We’re also getting rid of our garden beds, because we haven’t enjoyed growing food like we thought we would, and if my husband doesn’t want to put in the work, why should I make myself? Gardening doesn’t give me the stress relief it purportedly gives other people, and I’d rather spend my time doing other things. I like the idea of self sufficiency, I like looking at pretty seeds, I support the idea of seed saving and heirloom foods, but that doesn’t add up to having the patience to actually garden. Especially when buying food from other people is honestly cheaper.