Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What I'm Reading: A Sad Edition

[Content note: violence, racism, suicide, ableism]

Things in the news right now are not great. (Of course, they never are...) but it feels all the more sadder to learn that another unarmed young black man, this time Michael Brown, has been murdered by police. The subsequent situation in the city where it happened (Ferguson, MO) is also indicative of extreme racism. I am just trying to read and learn as much as I can about it. I have really appreciated the numerous informative pieces and updates that Colorlines is posting:
Kirsten West Savali also wrote a powerful piece about her reaction to this story:  My Sweet Young Sons: Cops Are Neither Here to Protect Nor Serve You. Go read it...and if you haven't already, go read all you can about this situation. Especially my fellow white people...we can't ignore this or turn our backs on these folks.

And if you can, participate in the National Moment of Silence tomorrow night.

In other sad news, everyone is all abuzz about Robin Williams' death, by suicide. I've been surprised that a majority of the reactions I've seen on social media have been dealing with the topic with an uncharacteristic level of compassion. Discussions, for the most part, have centered on raising awareness about depression, the stigma of mental illness, and getting help if you need it.

...and then someone shared this HORRIFIC piece by Matt Walsh, who, to this point, I thought was just a character actor, but I've now learned is an incredible douche. (Don't worry, I used "donotlink" here, so you can click through guilt free.) His basic premise is that Robin Williams made this "choice," this isn't something awful that just happened to him. Walsh writes,
It’s a tragic choice, truly, but it is a choice, and we have to remember that. Your suicide doesn’t happen to you; it doesn’t attack you like cancer or descend upon you like a tornado. It is a decision made by an individual. A bad decision. Always a bad decision. 
To reduce a mental illness like this down to a "bad decision" makes my skin crawl. And here we also have the othering of mental illnesses--they're not like cancer; they don't "just happen to you." I realize that Walsh is talking specifically about the suicide when he is saying this and not the depression, but can you really parse them apart like that?

It's very close to the harmful and ableist narrative that "suicide is selfish." To this, might I recommend a piece by Katie Hurley, where she debunks this perspective and provides some good tips and resources.

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