That sort of day

Dear President Biden,

Happy (Observed) Juneteenth, a worthy federal holiday, for sure. I am, however, holding out for voting day being designated as a federal holiday as well as passage of a robust version of HR1 and the John Lewis Voting Act, so please don’t let me (and democracy) down on these things. And really, meaningful action on reparations, police and judicial reform, health disparities, and differential climate impacts would push the official observation of Juneteenth out of the queasy “see, we aren’t a racist country!” space it currently occupies and into the realm of some honorable grappling with history and with present-day systemic racism.

How about it? Do you have Joe/Mitch Manchin on your schedule for a heart-to-heart about the damn filibuster? I sure hope so, since without some movement on that front, your equity agenda (and likely the infrastructure package) is doomed.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say about all of the above in the not too distant future, but what I really want to fuss about is what was in my “Pocket” today. This evening two of the top three stories are about male athletes and the third is about grandma’s fur coat, none of which are remotely of interest to me. And frankly, the pictures of sweaty men and of the White bouffy blond lady with the red lipstick grinning back at her grandmother while clasping numerous dead animal bodies around her body make me mildly nauseous. Oh, and dang, there’s a painting of a soft-focus white horse adorned with copious pastel flowers looking on as White lady clad in dead animal bodies gushes to Grandma about how much she loves the coat.

The reaction that these three gems wrought was, however, quite tame compared to the revulsion I felt when confronted with Pocket’s picks for me first thing this morning. I took a screen shot (which I’ll trash after I send you this letter) so I could be sure to get the details right. I feel a tiny bit bad fussing about this since I try not to be too judge-y about what other people eat, but two of the pictures depict huge steaks and give advice about how to 1) make steak butter and 2) grill the best steaks by starting from frozen. The third “story” is about yet another White woman – brunette, sans lipstick – who looks overjoyed as the prospect of getting to cash in on some fantabulous bank deal for people with perfect mortgage payment history and low principles.

Now why is Pocket giving someone who never, ever searches for anything to do with meat not one, but two early morning stories about steaks? We don’t eat meat and I’m someone who searches frequently for vegetarian and vegan recipes (and gluten free). Basically, this morning it rather felt like “they” were messing with me, but maybe it’s that I’ve completely misunderstood Pocket all along, maybe it’s really just whichever corporation was the highest bidder on a given day that gets its goods at the top of the heap and it has nothing whatsoever to do with people’s search histories. I don’t know.

Ah, but I just Googled “how does Pocket work?” and this is what I got back:

Pocket is a free service that makes it easy to discover great content that’s personalized to your interests, and save this content so you can return to it later – on any device, at any time.”

So hmm, “personalized to your interests” – I don’t think so. I don’t even have secret fantasies about eating steaks. I didn’t even like steak when I did eat meat. Maybe they’ve confused me with someone else. Or maybe the meat industry is just so desperate that they’re pushing their product on vegetarians, trying to win converts.

I just checked and there’s apparently a way to turn Pocket off. I’ll work on that tomorrow when my brain is fully online. In the meantime, I hope I don’t have nightmares about cows, rabbits, flowery white horses, or mortgages.

May we be safe from be bombarded by obnoxious advertising.
May we be willing to just say no to such stupidity.
May our POTUS and our Democratic Congress people get real and draw some strong lines in the sand.
May we not accept tokens of equality but insist on real equity.

Tracy Simpson

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