After spending three years in the Bronx, documenting the life of street addicts, and after countless frustrations – seeing friends relapse, friends beat-up, friends harassed by the police, friends thrown in jail for long stretches for minor offenses, and a friend die – I finally felt that I had done something unquestionably good.
Still, whenever my path detours into kittens, I get an uneasy feeling that helping animals can be a distraction from helping people.
In my time documenting the homeless, I run across stray cats and dogs regularly and, when I write about them or photograph them, I immediately get a flood of responses – one that almost always surpasses my stories and pictures of people.
I do get amazing offers to help people, including donations for blankets, books, socks, clothes and even just money, all of which is appreciated and all of which comes from a very good place. But I just get more interest, both in money and offers to help, when the subject is an animal.
Why? Because helping animals is ethically easy, and because helping people – especially addicts – is complex and often filled with judgment.
It’s not just that people ask the question, “What if they use the money for drugs?”: it’s the unspoken subtext when people think (and say), “The kittens didn’t do anything wrong. They don’t deserve their plight – they are innocent.”
Implicit in that sentiment is that a homeless addict is not “innocent”, but an agent of his or her own mistakes. It feeds into the stereotype that all addicts are lazy, that they are all weak and that they all lack willpower. It plays into our belief as a society that their fates – addicted to drugs and living under a bridge, for instance – are somehow all their fault.
That narrative is appealing because it allows us to abdicate our collective responsibility for a society – and an underlying set of public policies – that accepts and even ensures that a portion of our society will live on the streets, that some of us will be addicted to drugs, and that some of us will just have to deal with grinding poverty – and the traumas that often follow from it.
It is uncomfortable for many people to contemplate that perhaps homeless addicts are just as smart and just as ethical as anyone else. It requires us to come to realize that maybe “success” (as society defines it) has to do with luck, with being born in the right place and at the right time, and with being subject to laws and law enforcement that are designed to help instead of hurt you.
Knocking on wood is practiced in Russia as in other countries. However Russians tend to add a symbolic three spits over one’s left shoulder (or simply with the head turned to the left), and Russians will often knock three times as well. Traditionally one was spitting on the devil (who is always on the left).
Returning home for forgotten things is a bad omen. It is better to leave it behind, but if returning is necessary, one should look in the mirror before leaving the house again. Otherwise the journey will be bad.
If one feels that he or she may have been cursed by someone (the evil eye) or just has the feeling of a hostile presence, it is recommended to remove one’s coat and then put it back on starting with the hand opposing the usually used one. It is also recommended to pin a French Pin inside your clothing to avoid the curse of the evil eye in the first place.
Birds that land on a windowsill should be chased away. If they tap on the window, or fly into it (open or closed) it is considered a very bad omen (often of death).
A woman with empty water buckets coming towards you is considered a bad omen.
It is bad luck to use physical hand gestures to demonstrate something negative using oneself or someone else as the object. For example, when describing a scar you saw on someone’s face you should not gesture on your own face or someone else’s. If you must, you can demonstrate in mid-air. If one does it without realising, it can be countered by making a hand motion towards the body part used and then an abrupt motion away (as if to pick up the bad energy and throw it away) or by wiping the area with your hand and then blowing on your hand (as if to wipe off the bad energy and then blow it away).
Looking into a broken mirror almost certainly brings bad luck. The superstition says that if you look into a broken mirror, you break your inner world, and your soul becomes defenceless against the dark forces.
Never give yellow flowers to your lover, as it implies that an argument will happen and your relationship will end.
Lucky in cards not lucky in love. This, however, is only a pre-marital superstition. The reason for the division is that marriage is a sacrament in the Russian Orthodox Church, and this sacrament, ordained by God, eviscerates the pre-marital superstition. Thus, when a man is bonded by divine sacrament to a single woman whom he loves the cause and effect is reversed: namely, his married love for a single woman, and her love for him, will bring him good fortune in all endeavors including cards.
During the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom carry candles. Whoever’s candle died first, was the one who would die first.
If a woman puts too much salt on the meals this means she is in love.
Do not take your wedding ring off to show it to someone else, or worse still to let them try it on. The wedding ring is worn on your fourth finger, which is the one under the influence of the sun, and is a sign of our heart’s true love. If you take it off to show to another, it means you are giving away your love and happiness to a stranger.
In Russian superstition if a couple sets a wedding date and doesn’t end up getting married on that date they can not set another date and should not get married as their union will be cursed.
Cause And Effect
If your ears or cheeks are hot, someone is thinking or talking about you (usually speaking ill).
If your right eye itches, you’re going to be happy soon. If your left eye itches, you’ll be sad.
If you have hiccups, someone is remembering you at this moment.
If an eyelash falls out you’ll receive a gift. If someone finds an eyelash on someone he or she will sometimes let the person blow it away and make a wish.
If a fork or spoon falls on the ground, expect a female guest. If a knife falls, expect a male guest.
If someone sneezes while telling something, it means he or she is telling the truth.
Russians will typically avoid talking about pending successes. They believe that it is bad luck to talk about upcoming success before it actually occurs.
Never greet, or say goodbye to someone in a doorway. The threshold divides people, and in traditional Russian folklore, the house spirit resides here, so this superstition says that your greetings and gifts will not bring fortune or good luck.
It is best to cut your hair or nails during a full moon.
When someone is talking about something very undesirable or bad, the listener should say in Russian “Типун тебе на язык!” (tipun tebe na yazyk), which is generally translated as “Curse that tongue of yours!”. This expression is not meant to be offensive at all but is rather used as a spell for prevention of evil and bad luck.
Moving to the new house one must first let a cat go in first to assure harmony in the household.
If you sing on an empty stomach, you will chase your money away.
Do not pick up coins from the road. The popular belief is that such coins carry negative energy if they were thrown by a bad person and cause sickness.
Things that, as a mentally ill person, I do not find offensive:
Using the words “crazy” or “nuts” or “insane” to describe something unexpected or incredible, such as “Mars has two moons?! That’s crazy!” or “Wow, those Westboro Baptists sure believe some crazy shit” or “that party was insane!" or "You really think you can have unlimited chocolate by cutting it a certain way? Are you insane?" or "One Direction’s fans went nuts when they stepped out of that chariot."
Using words like “lunatic” or “madman” to describe someone who’s behavior is fanatical, like “Why is that raving lunatic shouting about abortion at this soldier’s funeral?”
Things that, as a mentally ill person, I find incredibly offensive:
When you use the words “crazy” or “nuts” or “insane” or “lunatic” or “madman” or any variant as a way of dismissing me or people like me and acting like we’re not full people
The portrayal in the media of mentally ill people as not existing beyond their illness on the rare occasion we’re shown as existing at all
The portrayal of mentally ill people as dangerous, or more violent than mentally healthy people, or less intelligent and competent to run their own lives than mentally healthy people, and the fact that a lot of writers don’t seem to understand that “mentally ill” is not a motivation.
The fact that every time there’s a mass shooting or a bombing or an attack and they can’t scapegoat a religion or race for the crime, the perpetrator seems to grow a mental illness just in time for the trial, and people think that explains (or in some cases excuses) what they did
The fact that when people push for not allowing people who can’t use them responsibly to own weapons, they always seem to start at “mentally ill people” on the list of people who shouldn’t be allowed handle weapons, even though there’s no correlation between mental illness and violence.
When people say “you’d have to be crazy to (commit atrocity)” even though no, sane people commit atrocities all the time. In fact, most violent crime is committed by people with no mental illness.
The fact that I have literally seen otherwise-progressive people suggest that all mentally ill people be registered by the government, and perhaps required to identify themselves, and maybe imprisoned for public safety if the need arises. How would you have us identify ourselves? Should we wear a patch on our clothes, or just present our papers upon request?
But I think what really gets me the most:
When mentally healthy people call others out on our behalf when it comes to things on the first list, but remain completely silent about, or even actively complicit in, everything on the second list.
the people of hong kong are engaged in a struggle for political self-determination with the mainland chinese government, which is a capitalist-imperialist government in league with the international financial institutions that dominate hong kong’s politics and the non-tourism part of its economy. so point one: if you support the chinese state fuck off
now like any movement, the protestors in hong kong need a sense of shared identity and some kind of binding rhetoric around which they can organise themselves. in hong kong’s case, because of the history of the island, the only shared identity they have that differentiates them from the mainland chinese is a century and a half of british colonialism (and use of the english language, a british-model education system…)
so yeah, they’re gonna use fuckin’ british colonialism as a rallying cry. i know that sounds ridiculous, but it should have been obvious as soon as their disagreement with mainland china crystallised. if hong kong organisers want to mobilise a popular movement they simply do not have any other options available to them
is it goofy to wave around british colonial flags to protest a domineering and repressive state? yeah, absolutely, from an ‘objective’ point of view that doesn’t ask why people might be doing it. yall out here taking this shit at face value without looking at the material circumstances that have led to the present situation. how is that marxist
If your only idea of how your lives might potentially be is “like most people in the UK” or “like most people in China” and you also get your images of those mostly from pop culture, you’re gonna pick the former every time cause they look a lot richer and healthier.
“Hipster economics are standard economics because hipsters are everything the US economy has ever wished for in one convenient package. It’s a group consisting largely of young, upper-middle class people with very little conviction, who will spend large amounts of money to maintain their own comfort and the appearance of diversity and rebellion. They are activists as long as it’s easy, poor as long as it doesn’t involve dirt or hunger, and selfless as long as they don’t stand to lose anything. They represent the sanitizing of national issues so that they can be discussed without being addressed. And all you have to do to control them is use some reverse psychology. They’re not rebels, they’re not even malicious, because they’re not anything except a bunch of kids playing pretend. They’ll eventually grow up and become bankers, lawyers and politicians, just like their parents…”—Top comment by “Robert” on The Peril of Hipster Economics (via zahgurim)
“There is nothing more offensive to the women of the Muslim world who see through the shallow hypocrisy of liberal western feminists claiming to defend freedom and liberty on one hand, while justifying and facilitating warmongering ideology which sees the destructive power structures of war and occupation invading their lives on the other. So long as the ideological war against Muslim patriarchy by liberal western feminists continues to tout the doctrine of the War on Terror, their hands will be covered in as much blood as their counterparts fighting in the battlefield.”—Ayesha Kazmi on “The function of the Muslim woman victim in western feminism and the war on terror” (via afghangry)
The Queen asked ministers for a poverty handout to help heat her palaces but was rebuffed because they feared it would be a public relations disaster, documents disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act reveal.
“If all the white people who claim they don’t hate us would ever get together and do something to the whites who claim they hate us, we’d see some action. Talk is cheap, if white people didn’t want to have a South African situation … there’d be none. If white people in America didn’t want segregation, there’d be none … it is the man who allows him to lynch who is never seen.”—
Taken from Hakim Jamal’s book “From the Dead Level: Malcolm X and Me” (page 180)
The protests are being held in order to achieve universal suffrage in Hong Kong. Although democracy had been promised for 2017 in 2008, China announced this August that Hong Kong people would only be able to vote from a pool of 2-3 specially selected candidates (all of whom would definitely have pro-China sentiments)
University students held a week-long boycott of classes to protest for true democracy in Hong Kong
Today riot police were deployed against peaceful protesters. Equipped in full riot gear the police used pepper spray to deter the protesters, mainly students and youths but also some elderly people have reported being sprayed point blank
It is estimated that over 50,000 people have joined the protest and this number continues to grow
This is the largest political protest in Hong Kong since our independence from the UK in 1997
Although the protests remain peaceful, police have now started to use tear gas and have brought out long guns loaded with rubber bullets (there hasn’t yet been a report of any bullets being shot)
Over 80 arrests have been made including students as young as 16 for taking part in these protests
They are cutting cell phone receptions in the protest area so that people can’t share any information
Violence is increasing as police continue to instigate protesters
All this comes right before the October 1st celebration of the 65th anniversary of founding of the People’s Republic of China
There are rumours that the PLA (the Chinese army) are going to be brought into the city tonight
More facts about Hong Kong:
We run under a one country, two systems policy with China meaning that we are part of China but have our own government and laws.
Protests for universal suffrage have been held throughout the summer but these are the biggest yet
Anti-China and anti-government sentiments are at their highest levels yet. Survey results showed that 1 in 5 people are thinking of emigrating from the city.
In June, China issued a white paper essentially telling Hong Kong to remember their place and re-asserting their authority over the city
The scenes from the protest look awful. In my 17 years in Hong Kong I’ve never seen anything like it. The world needs to know about this and say something before we get a recurrence of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
I hope everyone stays safe. Hong Kong stay strong.
Good news for aquatic life: the oceans just got a little bit safer. Okay, so most of the ocean remains vulnerable to human devastation, but on Thursday, President Barack Obama used his authority to create the most massive ocean reserve in the world. In a single day, the amount of the world’s ocean protected from commercial interests has effectively doubled.
Originally, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument was something that George W. Bush established during his last weeks in office. However, Obama has taken the symbolic ocean protection and turned it into something useful by growing the area to six times its original size.
Going forward, this nearly half million square miles of the Pacific Ocean will forbid commercial fishing, as well as deep sea mining. For the coral, dolphins, whales, sea turtles, manta rays and numerous fish and bird species that frequent this area, this decision helps to ensure their survival.
“These marine protected areas are very important for the ocean,” said Catherine Novelli, an Obama employee who works on environmental and economic initiatives. “The reason why we are going to get more countries to do them is because the whole biosphere, including the fish, need to be able to regenerate. If everyone is just fishing, fishing, fishing, there is no space for that to occur.”
Though conservationists have labeled the protected ocean a success, they have also dished out some criticism toward Obama for scaling back the project due to external pressure. The limits were originally slated be 1.5 times larger than they currently are, but the tuna industry fought to maintain the right to fish in some of that region.
The administration is also looking into securing intergovernmental funds to more effectively police protected oceans. In existing preserved areas, illegal commercial fishing frequently occurs due to a lack of oversight.
In addition to the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument reserve, the president will set up other protected ocean areas, like the waters around the island of Kiribati. Though this stretch of water is significantly smaller than the main reserve, it is still approximately the size of California.
“We have a responsibility to make sure our kids and their families and the future have the same ocean to serve it in the same way as we have – not to be abused, but to preserve and utilize,” said Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry has played a large role in the Obama administration’s extensive protections of federal lands and oceans. Political analysts have labeled it the most aggressive conservation agenda by a U.S. president in more than 50 years.
“Within the context of white supremacy, black people are often rewarded by racist white folks when we internalize racist thinking as a way of assimilating into the dominant culture.”—bell hooks, Salvation: Black People and Love (via crutch4)
Starting on Monday, thousands of university students in Hong Kong have been gathering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Tamar Park (outside the government offices) to protest the National People Congress (NPC) of China’s decision to restrict the right to vote for Chief Executive, the city’s highest political leader in 2017.
Article 45 of the Basic Law (Hong Kong’s own mini-constitution implemented after the handover from Britain to China in 1997) states that the Chief Executive should be chosen by universal suffrage as an eventual goal. Time and time again the Communist Party of China have dodged/shut down any democratic progress. Last month the NPC announced that they would continue using the 1200-member committee, consisting of members loyal to the Communist Party, to vote for our CE. THIS IS ILLEGAL. THIS IS SHAM DEMOCRACY AND SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED.
The sit-in of university students belongs to a movement called ‘Occupy Central with Love and Peace’ and is led by The Hong Kong Federation of Students (schedule and declaration of the strike included). This act of civil disobedience consists of absolute non-violence. It consists of free public lectures offered by university professors and writers on topics like Orwell’s ‘1984’, history of Hong Kong’s struggle for democracy, Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s fight to end injustice etc etc. I was one of the students sitting in Tamar Park on Tuesday and Thursday and it was one of the most rewarding, educational and, I must emphasise, peaceful political activities I have ever witnessed.
On Friday, high school students led by the student group Scholarism joined in the protest. They marched to Civic Square, pleading for our current CE to come out of his offices and listen to their requests, just like he promised during his ‘campaign’ in 2012. More and more citizens joined in the protest after work.
The police started cutting off access to Civic Square, which is a publicly owned area. They used shields to form a blockade against the protestors and started pushing them back. When people resisted with umbrellas, they started using clubs and pepper spray on the protestors, who started putting both of their hands up to show they are unarmed. Many students who managed to rush in Civic Square are arrested, including the leading of Scholarism. Many of them have visible injuries caused by police brutality and some of them still haven’t been released from police custody.
THE FIGHT IS STIL GOING ON. PEOPLE ARE STILL CROWDING OUTSIDE CIVIC SQUARE AND TAMAR. Resources are running thin and the police are still threatening violence. Some of my friends are at the protest and they are continuing the struggle despite the risks. It is predicted that the police will escalate their brutality with tear gas, more pepper spray and water cannons against innocent, peaceful protestors, many of them teenagers.
You can watch Occupy Central live here: x (Apple Daily livestream)
I know tumblr is a US-centric place but PLEASE PLEASE SPARE A SECOND TO REBLOG THIS POST. Hong Kong is a tiny city. We are anything but a formidable force in international politics. The only thing we can do is raise awareness among the world and force our corrupt government to answer to our protests.
PLEASE HELP US.
Articles on Occupy Central (English): x (The Economist), x (BBC News), x (Mail Online), x (Newsweek), x (CNN), x (Right Now I/O), x (NY Times)
Updates (Chinese): x (Campus TV, HKU), x (Apple Daily), x (Amnesty International Hong Kong), x (InMedia HK), x (926政總現場消息發佈)
“But as Latinos become an increasingly large part of a non-white majority in the United States, we must remain vigilant about anti-blackness in our families, communities and movements, or risk a future of our own making in which black lives are treated as though they do not matter. While George Zimmerman’s vile vigilantism is an aberration, we need to admit that people like him, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are not total anomalies; we need to admit that they are like some of our own family members who murmur slurs, lock car doors and cross streets to avoid black people”—Aura Bogado - “A matter of death and death”: Confronting anti-black racism among Latinos (via afro-dominicano)
“BECAUSE Mexican mass culture is antiblack and colourist as fuck (just look at telenovelas). So much so that Afromexicans in Mexico City are thought of as “costeños” and “just really dark” erasing of their African identity (this I know from growing up there) and mexican people whose indigenous features are more visible, continue to be discriminated. Whites/white-passing Mexicans are mainly middle/high class almost all of the time. Most of our barrios have been historically poor, where less-white looking Mexicans were relegated to. Basically same shit, different country”—
Anti black and native racism have always been a huge problem amongst Latinx, while white and white passing Latinx continue to be held as being the ‘idle’. It’s disgusting. We have to recognize these issues of colourism in our communities if we’re going to do better.
Sex worker’s fears are grounded in the realities of a justice system that criminalizes their livelihood. Prostitutes who report sexual assault to police can be laughed at, ignored, accused of lying, arrested, or worse — even when the assault didn’t necessarily happen on the job. “If a woman [sex worker] tries to bring charges against a partner who has raped her, chances are they’re going to use her job against her in court,” Audacia Ray, whose New York City-based Red Umbrella Project supports current and former sex workers. “It’s the chilling effect of knowing that the law is not with us.”
Reliable statistics about rape and prostitution are nearly impossible to find, since a huge number of survivors don’t report their assaults, but one recent study found that sex workers have a 45 to 75 percent chance of experiencing sexual violence at some point in their careers. Our criminal justice system’s explicit bias against sex workers only compounds the problem. In 2007, a judge in Philadelphia dismissed rape charges against a man who organized the gang rape of a prostitute at gunpoint, saying that his crime was merely “theft of services.” New York State’s 1975 rape shield law—which protects rape victims from having their sexual histories used against them in criminal proceedings—explicitly does not apply to anyone with a prostitution conviction on her record in the past three years. And when another Oakland sex worker, who goes by the name Ms. R, applied for state-funded victim compensation after the serious injuries from a rape left her unable to return to work immediately, she was denied support on the grounds of her job. The police and criminal justice systems treat sex workers as though rape were a mere “occupational hazard” of their work — an accusation that would never be thrown at a bank teller who survived a robbery.