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Human Parts
A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

Social Justice

In Human Parts. More on Medium.

Humans 101

Can we stop maligning people with a highly stigmatized mental illness?

I’ve been fighting with people about narcissism since the day Trump declared his candidacy. So many left-leaning people seem to relish mental illness as an explanation for his actions. Calling Trump a narcissist seems to satisfy a deep need many people have to understand him as an aberration, an evil defect taking advantage of a system that otherwise works and is fair: If he’s a narcissist, then he’s almost inhuman. Absolutely evil. And all we have to do is get rid of evil people like him, and then we can return to normal.

Of course, the “normal” way of doing…


Humans 101

What many thin people refer to as ‘internalized fatphobia’ is a different side of the same coin

A marble statue of a thin woman looking off to the side, angrily and mistrustfully. The statue stands in front of lush ferns.
A marble statue of a thin woman looking off to the side, angrily and mistrustfully. The statue stands in front of lush ferns.

I know that you have learned to hate your body.

I know the messages, the images, the comments, both cruel and well-intended. I know the sinking feeling of seeing your changing body in the mirror, the sharp pain as your clothes dig into newly soft flesh.

I know it hurts, and the pain can sometimes feel immeasurable. I know it is tempting to validate that pain by asserting that you are the intended target of an oppressive system. I also know that, if you have never been a fat person, the name for that pain is not “internalized fatphobia.”

Internalized…


Express Yourself

Words can inspire reflection and growth, instead of prompting attacks

#@?! in block letters against a yellow background.
#@?! in block letters against a yellow background.

A few months ago, I wrote an essay about why I dislike the term “differently abled.” As an Autistic person, I find it unhelpful and condescending to hide the word “disabled” behind softening euphemisms like that one. I also explained that the majority of disabled people feel the way I do about the term.

In the same piece, I also noted that the use of words like “differently abled” are revealing in a useful way; they indicate to me that a person is uncomfortable with disability, or is unfamiliar with the disability rights movement. Knowing that allows me to meet…


This Is Us

Light-skinned and part of the problem

Mixed-race woman looking out a window.
Mixed-race woman looking out a window.

When I was in my senior year of high school I argued against affirmative action. My AP history class had taken a field trip to Selma and we’d spent the day wandering around, drinking in the history of the small city. I was one of two Black students in a class of 30. Ashley and I were bound at the hip until we went our separate ways in college. I wonder how she felt at that moment. …


This Is Us

None of us are immune

Illustration of a Black person rolling white paint onto an otherwise solid-pink floor, and casting a long, dark shadow.
Illustration of a Black person rolling white paint onto an otherwise solid-pink floor, and casting a long, dark shadow.

I am racist

Even though I am Black.
Even though I have Black friends.
Even though I have experienced racism.
Even though I protest against racism.
Even though I support Black-owned businesses.
Even though I say #BlackLivesMatter.

I am racist

I don’t say this proudly, or lightly. I am not a racist, but I am still racist. My racism is not a reflection of my heart or intentions. My racism is a product of the environment in which I was raised.

Racism is most visible between Black and White people, but it also occurs between Black people. There were, and still are, levels of privilege within…


Humans 101

There are many ways to be an activist, and none of them are all-or-nothing

Two activists walking down a hallway covered with signs.
Two activists walking down a hallway covered with signs.

I’m the kind of person who will occasionally call themselves an activist, then immediately cringe at myself for having the gall to claim that word.

I’m not a good enough activist to be an “activist.” I don’t have the consistency, the self-sacrificing instinct, the almost religious fervor some have for their causes. I don’t have the faith things are actually gonna work out. I have limited energy and I use it all up within the first couple of months and then I get sad and flop on the couch.

That’s not what real activists are like, I tell myself. Activists…


This Is Us

But I’ve found other ways to commit myself to seeking justice

A photo of a protestor speaking into a megaphone at a protest for BLM.
A photo of a protestor speaking into a megaphone at a protest for BLM.

I wasn’t always comfortable admitting in-the-street protest was not my lane. Unfortunately, there’s a false stigma that if you’re not on the front lines, you’re not about it. And I fell into believing that — which made me feel small, lazy, and self-doubting.

But I grew out of that belief. I realized my place in the fight isn’t on the front lines, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make a difference. This is about how I got there, and how when we own our role in social justice, we better support the roles of others.

Finally, I had arrived. A…


Lived Through This

Have you ever tried to fit into a space made for someone else?

My breath tightens immediately when the call comes. It’s my boss’s boss, telling me there’s an important meeting in another city. Or maybe it’s a friend, inviting me to her wedding in California. Sometimes, it’s a family member whose health is failing and the time has come to say goodbye.

The news hits hard — it’s a high-pressure time for my job, friend, family. My heart is pounding and my breath is tightening. …


From now on, my life — and my activism — will be small

I’ve been an activist since before I was old enough to vote. It started when I was still a little kid, passionate about animals and the earth, pushing my relatives to conserve water, lecturing anyone who didn’t wear a seat belt or smoked. I’ve forever been the tiny person annoying people, cajoling them into doing something I believed was right. It was an impotent effort, most of the time. It remains a mostly impotent effort.

I was always someone who cared about things — big abstract things, hard-to-change things, symbolic and ideological things. And I was never big enough, energetic…


It’s time to shatter the false promise of declaring any space ‘safe’

Sitting in circle with me are 36 other human beings, a new cohort of facilitation students. I have been creating, designing, and facilitating learning spaces for 20 years, and now I’m learning how to teach university students to do the same.

We are embarking on a two-semester journey to learn what it means to run meetings, hold events, and give workshops using participatory processes—processes that allow people to reflect, share ideas, and create possibilities together, rather than be talked at.

At the end of the initial session, I asked a light question: “What are you taking away from this first…

Human Parts

A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

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