Some folks have been asking me to post my Lenny intros here, so here you go. This is from Lenny No. 42.
I feel like I usually write “Hi Lennys!,” but that feels weird right now. I don’t think anyone could possibly be feeling OK, or feeling like using exclamation points right now, except to say “What the fuck!” or something like that. A horrible thing about horrors is that we witness them, experience them, survive them — and then we have to live with them. Not only that, we need to protect our brothers and sisters and do all we can to stop the horrors and the injustices, and that can feel like an insurmountable problem that we just throw anger and grief at and nothing ever changes.
There are two kinds of things that help me in times like this, and I will share them with you. I show up to the rallies. I go and I scream and I shout and I march and I feel a connection with all my activist friends and those who are outraged along with me. I hope that everyone “watching at home” will realize that there is a fight they can join. I support Black Lives Matter in every way I can. As a straight, cis, white person, I shut up on social media and support the voices of those being targeted and those whose lived experiences should be heard.
The other thing I do is connect with my neighborhood. I went down to the community garden to sign up for a plot and got to talking with a lady who also has a bad back and helped her out with her weeds. Just working side by side, not talking, was incredibly hopeful. I’m also joining our local Copwatch Patrol Unit, a group that teaches people their rights in police interactions — as well as techniques to survive those interactions. Cop Watch Patrol Unit documents police interactions with civilians and holds the police accountable for their actions. I’ve worked with them before, when the police were harassing the black students at a high school nearby. Honestly, I am not in much danger of being shot by a cop, but I do have the ability to support people and movements, and there is no better place to do it than in your own community. If you want more ideas, writer Ijeoma Oluo has strong suggestions on what those who feel helpless should be doing — give her impassioned list a read and some thought.
Many of our stories today are about comfort and healing and self-care. Pearl Gabel, herself an adult thumb-sucker, spoke to others who practice the same self-soothing technique long past childhood. Just realizing she was not the only one was a healing moment. Lenny contributing writer Kaitlyn Greenidge spoke to Chirlane McCray, the First Lady of New York City, about McCray’s efforts to destigmatize mental-health issues and make access to mental-health care simple and affordable for all New Yorkers.
Emily Rapp Black’s relationship with her grad-school mentor began as a professional one, but it grew into an ecosystem of mutual nurturing, especially when Black’s son died at age three. Black writes of mentors: “They observe and accompany the darkest despair, the wildest sorrow, and the most unexpected joy.” We all need that in our lives.
We also have the story of Gillian McCain, the co-author of Please Kill Me — and a woman who got very little credit for her work on this widely known, influential book. Restoring lost history rights wrongs we didn’t even know were there. Finally, feel the power of the women in Jenn Woodall’s Fight! zine — superheroines who are ready to throw down for what they believe in. I’m ready to do that, in all the ways that work for me. I hope you find your way as well.
Mikki, editor at large