Wanted: foreign affairs journalist to cover events in Ferguson, Minneapolis, and Cleveland.

Sometimes I think journalists don’t even read their own articles — or internalize their own hot air.  In this Sunday’s New York Times, Ellen Barry writes about a murder case in India in which caste affiliation gets in the way of justice.  Early in the piece, she grills the local constable, gets pushback, and examines her navel a bit:

Over the past decade, in Russia and then India, I have been asked versions of this question hundreds of times: Who are you to come here and tell us what is wrong with our system? And it’s true, the whole enterprise of foreign correspondence has a whiff of colonialism. During the years I have worked abroad, Americans’ interest in promoting their values in the world has receded, slowly and then precipitously. I doubted the regional hegemons filling the vacuum would do better, but still, I wasn’t sure it was such a bad thing.

(Emphasis, as the law nerds say, added.)  So, cool, I think, she’s just a little bit self-aware about her privileged position and first-world filter.  But after reporting that the local justice system refused to recognize a murder as a murder — based on caste loyalty — she sheds her self-awareness like a gossamer scarf:*

Sometimes it seemed that the European legal system, with its liberal emphasis on individual rights, had settled only lightly on a country fixated on the rights of groups. Political leaders have driven this deeper into the culture: Equality, in India, is equality among groups. Justice is group justice.

Perhaps her next colonial assignment should be Ferguson.  Or Minneapolis.  Or Baltimore.  Or Cleveland.  Or New York.  I’d be interested in the promotion of American values in those far flung locales.


*I’m picturing a blonde woman — perhaps in a perfume ad — running in slow mo as the scarf of self awareness floats gracefully up and away from her.**

**Note the latest in accessible images:  the image-free image description.


After North Carolina made the brilliant decision to police its citizens’ bathroom habits, a movement arose urging cis folks to be available to accompany trans or genderqueer folks to the restroom or other gendered spaces.  It’s called “I’ll Go With You.”   It has a website … and buttons!

This week, two more Black men were assassinated by the police under circumstances that defy rational understanding, but that share with so many other similar murders this feature:  they would not have happened to a white person.

What can a random middle age white lady do about all this killing?  I can march, shout, post . . . all things that announce my horror, anger, and sadness.  But I can’t force grand juries to indict murderous cops or juries to convict them.  And worst of all, I can’t stop the shooting from happening in the first place.

Or can I?   What if I were there?  Could enough of us be there for our Black friends, allies, and fellow citizens to stop some of the random killing?  If we’re willing to go to the bathroom as a show of solidarity with our trans and genderqueer friends, is there a way we ride along with our Black friends to show solidarity or, y’know, be a human shield?  Call it the White-People Ride-Along program*, placing random white people in the cars of random African-Americans while they drive to work, run errands, go out to dinner, stay up late, joy ride, and other things white people can do in cars without risking death at the hands of law enforcement.  It would work like a sort of reverse Uber. When the Black driver is ready to go somewhere, he or she enters the information in the WPRA app and connects with an available white passenger.  Voila!  Instant, if unfounded, respectability and potential survival.

Wild-ass idea, right?  Or maybe not.  Anyone with the balls & tech skills to get this rolling:  I’m in.


*Yes, I’m intending to copy the police “Ride-Along” label.