Part I: Bottoms Up

Ash dreams the dream of swimming. In the dream he is deep in the Kosciuszko pool. In the dream the pool is located behind his Quincy Street apartment, in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, New York. He forgot to take his eyeglasses off, in the dream, and they sank beneath the turquoise surface into the bottom. The frames are clear and lost to view, in the dream his vision is gone with them. But it is okay, because God is with him and so Ash doesn’t have to see so clearly.

He wakes not to water but green branches waving outside his bedroom…

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Thinking they could order ourselves, early teachers mapped good and evil into textbook geographies, plotting America as God’s bounty, pre-colonial societies as a void. They curated a literary canon of honesty and virtue, diligence and patriotism, hard work: Washington Irving and Hamlet’s soliloquy and the Sermon on the Mount. Not to mention arithmetic, hefty word problems meditating on frugality, the benefits of saving for old age; and history, which told of the goodness of the Pilgrims, Franklin, Washington, and Jefferson, the pioneers. Complications could be chalked up to disloyalty (see Benedict Arnold, Native Americans, Catholics). This is not to mention…

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I was the baby of the family, accustomed to being led around by the hand. My reputation lacked direction. At the Jersey Shore one year, my uncle made me lead him to the grocery store, and then the deli counter inside the grocery store. Where was the restaurant where we had made reservations? We were on a spit of sand too narrow to become lost upon.

And after I had led him he would ask me, “How did you get here?” He would make me attempt to name the streets I had walked, the corners I had known, how long…

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

As a matchmaker, I spend my days talking to single folks on behalf of my clients, located all over the United States. Often in those conversations, I encounter people who rely on Tinder to meet other singles, but find their dating life unfulfilling or even depressing.

“Everyone on here is only interested in texting!” “No one actually ever wants to meet up!” One man told me he broke up with the last woman he dated because she didn’t want to stop swiping and keeping her “options open.”

Tinder works well for meeting a bunch of different people. Every time you…

Tamir Rice was a 12 year old boy who was murdered by Cleveland police.

Dear Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editors:

This is written in your response to your May 26 article, “Arts Festival withdraws Tamir Rice painting after controversy.” The article is biased and erases the voices of Black artists and activists who have spoken out against the painting.

In this article you centered the voice of Tom Megalis, the artist who wielded a great deal of pain upon the Pittsburgh Black community by choosing to bring his painting here. This community includes Black mothers who are impacted by police violence; women who have met with Tamir Rice’s family.

In the article, you reduced the issue…

Image via Flickr user: Takver.

Three days ago, on the morning of Tuesday, February 7, 2017, activist and father Martín Esquivel Hernández was deported from Pittsburgh to Mexico. He was separated from his family despite overwhelming support from Pittsburgh’s Mayor, from Pennsylvania Congressman Doyle, from local faith and labor organizations, and the immigrant community. Martín’s deportation occurred as pressure is mounting for Pittsburgh to become a sanctuary city. Currently, praise is being heaped upon Councilman Dan Gilman (D), who took a politically ripe moment to introduce six “safeguards” for immigrants and refugees on Martin Luther King Day. …

Image via: Wikimedia Commons. Image description: An immigration enforcement officer stands with his back to the camera outside of a home where a person is being arrested.

On February 2, 2017, a delegation of constituents and immigrant rights advocates visited the offices of Pittsburgh Representative Dom Costa (D, Stanton Heights) to ask him to commit to support the civil rights and humanity of all immigrants in Pennsylvania by stating he would no longer sponsoring legislation that attacks immigrants.

Costa refused. Two weeks later, he brought new racist legislation to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives by co-sponsoring HB 459, which, if passed, would further endanger immigrant workers.

The representative has drawn attention from immigrants' rights advocates since he was listed as co-sponsor of HB 14, a bill in…

Image by Vanessa German. Used with permission. Image description: a Black child stands on a tree stump outside of an apartment complex, holding a red ribbon. Next to him, a Black woman in a red headwrap holds a sign reading “You are right to grieve.”

As a child, the government came and took ancient trees — oak and sycamore and tulip poplar — from my parents’ property. I have never forgotten the orange construction ribbons fluttering around the tree trunks or the sight of their dismemberment when they were taken down, have never forgotten the way trauma can be reflected onto a landscape.

On Thursday, January 26, a few weeks after the Pittsburgh planning commission told LG Realty that they could not move ahead on the construction of Penn Plaza due to their lack of community engagement, the developers came and cut down the trees.

Activists with the Bring Martín Home campaign hold an orange banner demanding the return of the father of three.

On Saturday, January 14, immigrants are heading to Washington D.C. in a national day of action focused on immigrants. United We Dream called for the #HereToStay national day of action to lift up the message that, “regardless of what the Trump administration thinks it is going to do, immigrant communities are here to stay and will push back against deportation, racial profiling, and criminalization of migration. Solidarity rallies will be taking place across the nation, including in Pittsburgh. …

Martín Esquivel-Hernandez’s two daughters at a rally in support of their father.

Note: this piece was written and published with the full knowledge and permission of the Esquivel-Hernández family, and input from activists working with the Bring Martín Home Campaign .

Martín Esquivel-Hernandez is the father of three small children, a husband to Alma Brigido, a valued member of Pittsburgh’s Latinx community, a civic leader and an activist for immigrants rights. In May, after being racially profiled at a traffic stop in Mount Lebanon, Martín was taken from his family by US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and continues to be held in a for-profit prison today, even though he is not…

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