The Sunday Post for April 8, 2018

Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.

Comic book artist worked on Wonder Woman & Thor, now homeless

There’s not much new in this Weekly Standard article on homelessness in Seattle for any resident of “this picturesque city nestled on Puget Sound” (ahem) who’s paying attention. Still, it’s a good stop against complacency, to see ourselves through an outsider’s eyes — and especially the casual mention of Seattle’s “energetic NIMBY movement.”

For book lovers (that's you), this piece by Ryan Krull on the intersection between libraries and homelessness in St. Louis is also interesting, especially in the wake of the recent sharps waste kerfuffle at Seattle’s library system. There’s a NIMBY element hidden in both, if you look close enough. (Spoiler: you don’t have to look that hard.)

And here’s one last angle: award-winning comics author William Messner-Loebs, one of the artists credited in Wonder Woman, is homeless, thanks to a string of bad luck and the absence of any reasonably functioning safety net for writers and artists. Derek Kevra wrote about his love for Messner-Loebs’ work. I don’t have a neat takeaway for this one (though I bet co-founder Paul Constant does), except to say that all three of these pieces reflect a misplacement of values that might be worth taking a cold hard look at — before it’s too late for us to make a different choice.

I don’t remember 6-year-old me reading that story line, and I don’t remember how Dad handled it (Bill was curious about this) but I remember the cover. And I remember his name on it.

I sat there in silence for a few minutes.

I don’t know what I was hoping for but seeing his name hit me like a ton of bricks. Those comic books created some of my favorite memories as a kid and Bill wrote them. He created, fought for and worked on those stories and I read them with Dad while drinking a Cherry Pepsi.

Now the man who gave me those memories was living out of his car. I’d love to say at that moment I jumped up with a specific plan to help him get on his feet but in reality, I sat there and cried.

Dark Matters

Abe Streep’s profile of the Arlee Warriors, the championship-winning high school basketball team from the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, has gone everywhere this week. It’s a pretty piece: inspirational, touches on some tough issues, lightly. It makes us sad in that way that we’re all okay with — the non-bleak, mostly hopeful, bearable kind of sad.

Which is a bit of a tipoff that the ways in which Alicia Elliott’s essay about Canada’s failure to convict the adult/male/white killers of two Indigenous teenagers makes you feel sad may not be bearable. Her central metaphor — racism as the unseeable thing that deforms the universe we live in — is apt and powerful, and her writing is personal and relentless. This deserves to be read just as widely, starting with you.

Then I remembered what Gerald Stanley’s lawyer said about Colten’s death in his closing argument: “It’s a tragedy, but it’s not criminal.” I remembered the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities trying to push for stronger self-protection laws while simultaneously denying the impact the Boushie killing had made on this decision. I remembered the white people on Twitter flooding Indigenous people’s accounts with racist slurs; claims that Stanley was acting in self-defence; claims that Colten was a criminal who had it coming; that Stanley’s white lawyer dismissing all visibly Indigenous people from the jury as soon as he saw them was not racist; that an all-white jury finding Stanley innocent of any wrong-doing when he shot Colten point-blank in the head was not racist; that none of this was racist. I remembered all the times I’ve pointed out racism in my life and the white people around me claimed I was imagining it. I remembered that, eventually, I started to wonder if I really was imagining it. I am always made to feel as if I am imagining it.
The Rules of the Asian Body in America

Finally, one from Roxane Gay’s new venture, the month-long pop-up magazine Unruly Bodies: Matthew Salesses on what happens when his Korean wife is diagnosed with stomach cancer after the birth of their second child. While the safety net of American health insurance shreds beneath her, the new and uncertain immigration laws tangle themselves around the family’s neck.

(Full disclosure: clicking this link will burn one of your three free reads on Medium this month. If you care about that sort of thing.)

I was among the largest wave of Korean adoption in the late 1970s and early 1980s. My adoptive parents are Catholic. (My father was on his way to becoming a priest when he married my mother.) They believed the best way to be good Christians was to erase my body from contention. According to my father, they still consider me not Asian at all, “only their son.” In order to follow the rules of family, my body had to be an exception to the rules.

It was in search of my body and its rules that I found Cathreen in 2005, when I went to Korea believing that I had no history at all. She introduced me to myself. Four years later, she immigrated to America, married me, and got her green card, putting her trust in rules that historically distrusted us.