Category Archives: Informational

Black Lives Matter leads to Questions about Malden Police

I hope that Black Lives Matter leads to real changes at interpersonal, local, national and international levels. There is a lot of work to be done, especially among us white folks. Uncovering the racist acts of individual police and examining the complex interactions among racism, police, and governing bodies are a good place to start.

Black Lives Matter logo

In 1990, I chose to live in Malden, a city of 60,000, just north of Boston, heralded as “the most diverse in Massachusetts.” Malden is neither the least “white” (about 50%), nor the most black, brown or Asian. Rather, we are a mix of races, cultures, ethnicities, economic classes, religions, etc. We have a plethora of adults who were born in other countries (I believe 37%), and 77 languages spoken at home by students at the high school. Diversity doesn’t mean that racism and white privilege aren’t prevalent: they are. Everywhere.

I wrote to my city councilor on June 12, 2020. Today, I modified it for clarity to post here, and to send to the rest of the city council, the police chief, and the mayor.

The Letter

Dear Malden Officials,

The resurgence of Black Lives Matter has refocused my attention on the systemic racism that surrounds and is within us. I’ve seen many of the connections before, but this round of furor has deepened my thinking and my desire to push for changes.

Brave people with video cameras posting on social media have, once again, exposed police brutality in the killing of George Floyd. I think the Malden police do a good, civil, job without undo force. But then, I’m white and live in the west end of the city. USA Today has made available a database that contains records of police misconduct. I wanted to see if have been any reports made in Malden, but Massachusetts is not one of the 44 states from which they were able to get data. The New York Times has an important article on the role of police unions in covering up misdeeds. I’ve read a lot in the past about the war on drugs (a.k.a. on poor and black people), and about military equipment and grants made to local police to stop terrorism (Timothy McVeigh?). Continue reading Black Lives Matter leads to Questions about Malden Police

What’s the ruling?

Given what soccer means to me now, it’s embarrassing to remember how little I knew about it when I went to see the U.S. Women’s National Team play in the 1999 World Cup against North Korea. I had a fantastic time, moving forward and back on my seat, popping up and yelling “YES!” then “uuuuuh” on the way back down. I triumphantly jumped up and down at each of our three goals, throwing my voice into the roar. I bought my first sports souvenir, a mini-ball, and thought about the match for days afterwards.

WWC1999_mini_ball
Each panel of the mini-ball featured a U.S. host city. Note the Statue of Liberty.

Honestly, I must have missed at least one of those goals. My son was six months old and spent much of the game in the baby backpack on the ground in front of me, cradled in between my knees. It was the only place that gave him a little shelter from the abrupt, and therefore startling, movements and noise of the big people surrounding him. Continue reading What’s the ruling?

The NAMES Project Quilt as a New Public Ceremony, 1989

In 1989, when I wrote the paper that comprises this blog post, AIDS was still regularly in the news, though most Americans wrongly perceived it as a “gay disease.” Among most lesbians, it was a social/political issue about which some were active. It remained an urgent transmission and educational problem facing gay men. HIV that progressed to full-blown AIDS was a death sentence. “Safe sex” hadn’t permeated the lexicon.

Now, AIDS is “just” one of many sexually transmitted infections kids [should] learn about in health class. First world citizens who have access to the necessary drugs can live with not only HIV but also AIDS. Nonetheless AIDS still kills. Education is still critical. The NAMES Project’s AIDS Memorial Quilt lives on not only in physical form but also virtually; their web application leads to images of Quilt panels.

Here is a look back at the Quilt as a public ceremony, soon after its creation, through a paper I wrote for a graduate course in Public History [What is Public History]. Continue reading The NAMES Project Quilt as a New Public Ceremony, 1989

Improvements needed in Malden Center

It’s time to finally write my rant about Malden’s city hall, a.k.a. “government center.” The short story is that the building was built smack dab in the middle of Pleasant Street and now blocks access to that commercial area, and that the building and area around it create a hostile rather than welcoming environment. In the twenty years I’ve lived here, the city has repeatedly investigated tearing it down. While that dream sits in the pipe, I think there are relatively inexpensive ways the city could improve the area and funnel traffic to Pleasant Street.

Now, for the long story.

I walked some errands today. My stroll started at the Malden Center T station. I went down Exchange Street, in back of the police station, to Middlesex Street. I turned right to go into McGovern Physical Therapy where the PT tried to convince my recalcitrant ankle to shape up. From there, I went back up Middlesex toward Pleasant Street. I looked in the CVS for dixie cups that I could fill with water, freeze, and use to torture my ankle. There were way too many in the box for more than I wanted to pay, so I exited and turned left onto Pleasant. I thought about checking in the Super 99¢ Century store for dixie cups, but the cramped chaos in there scares me so I cruised on by. I realized I was hungry, so swung into the Ethiopian/Mediterranean Abiata Cafe and bought a shawarma.

Continue reading Improvements needed in Malden Center