by Valerie Morales

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A year before social distancing ruined us, audiences flocked to a Korean film named Parasite. It was a witty story with a moral question: what do the wealthy deserve? An affluent family and a scheming family provided more than enough wit and contemplation. Because what was slick and funny in the very beginning wasn’t funny at the end. Inequities hardly are.

Honored with a Best Picture award and standing ovations during the Oscar ceremony, Parasite’s message about wealth and loathing crossed cultural lines. We were introduced to the impoverished Kim’s who cobble together an insane scheme to…


by Valerie Morales

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photo courtesy of Nappy

In the anxious weeks before election day, when COVID was an oppressive enemy on the prowl, and professional football was a diversion, black voters stood in line for hours, emboldened by in-state early voting. The recipients of voter suppression endured all kinds of peculiar weather and circumstance. My cousin brought food for her two hours wait. Some had chairs and the Eddie Glaude book about James Baldwin. Or, Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste.” Others had ears plugged and were jamming to WAP on Spotify. A few put in pizza orders for in-line delivery.

Those who couldn’t miss two hours…


by Valerie Morales

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It was a terse scene on a tinny Georgia night. A loud roar of cheers set the raucous but absurd mood on a piece of land known as the old Troutman field. Sam Hose, the son of a slave, was being executed. His ears first. Then, fingers and genitals were cut off while knife blades stuck in a twist hoping to dice up his heart and guts.

The black skin of Sam Hose’s face was ripped off and then he was nailed to a tree, covered in kerosene, and well, you can imagine the idiosyncratic rest. His…


by Valerie Morales

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Kent County, Michigan. 52% Biden. 46% Trump. Months before election day, Grand Rapids, Michigan had a Black Lives Matter protest and thousands showed up at Rosa Parks Circle. Yes, the home of Gerald Ford has a Rosa Parks Circle. The crowd marched until they reached GRPD headquarters, then they chanted “Black Lives Matter.” “George Floyd.” “Say His Name.” “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.” As the night wore on, what was once peaceful turned into a riot. But what stuck with me was the beginning, not the end.

In 1984, Grand Rapids and the entire state of Michigan gave…


by Valerie Morales

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Two years ago when Stacey Abrams lost the governor’s race by only 54,000 votes it was an impressive showing for a woman of color in a state that still clings to Jim Crow values. But, it was hard to celebrate how eerily close she came because of the contemptible tactics used to stop her. The system built to paralyze people of color played its part perfectly in her defeat and for many, myself included, it was hard to accept.

The victims of voter suppression struggle with its depravity and consequences. That it’s been around for over a…


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by Valerie Morales

Years before Breonna T., and years before Sandra B., and years before Rekia B., and years before my beloved Martha M., I took a Criminal Justice class. It was an upper-division elective and unbeknownst to me the section I signed up for was taught by an extraordinarily gifted lecturer who was also a prosecutor in the criminal division. Prof Hewes prosecuted accused murderers and rapists which gave him relevance and stardom on campus; he was not an academic snob whose life work was research. Prof Hewes affected the balance of the world.

Two days a week Prof…


On November 4th, Trump Will Play The Victim. But Only In These States

by Valerie Morales

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photo by Tiffany Tertipes

Donald Trump’s slash and burn campaign against the United States Post Office, while unprecedented, has achieved its goal of toxicity and confusion. Around the country anxiety, and unease about mail-in voting have shifted the very benefit that democracy affords. Vaingloriously, Trump is trying to corrode the very thing men have died for: freedom. The contempt Trump has for American citizens is shaped into a three-act play of his own making: Charlottesville, Caged Babies At The Border, Stealing the Election.

Of the latter. No one…


by Valerie Morales

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photo by George Kamau Jr

Maternal death is an American horror story and a public health crisis that affects black women disproportionately. But why black women die after giving birth or die right before giving birth, is a complicated helix of causations. Obesity and hypertension, pre-existing conditions, and social trauma are risk factors that demagnetize white women and lure pregnant black women into graves.

Lifestyle and health challenges account for an estimated 40% of black women’s deaths. However, an estimated 60% of pregnant mortality is linked to racism causes as black women’s complaints, concerns, and fears are often ignored, dismissed, and erased.


by Valerie Morales

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Photo by Mateus Souza

Dred Scott lived in the state of Missouri but was not free. Because slaves were property, he was not an American citizen. With vigor in some circles and religious indignation in others, Dred Scott instantly became a cause. He was a shining example of why. Why the original sin had to be erased. Why there needed to be a war in the first place. Why the old assumption of the moral South was a fable and a farce.

The Dred Scott question was simplistic in its yearning: If you won’t fight to stop slavery then what, my…


by Valerie Morales

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photo by olu famule

The protesting hordes, regardless of what city they are in, and regardless of the specific details of the slain, carry with them ghosts. The ones who have been stolen from them, and the ones who are forever gone. Self-defeating as it may seem to outsiders, the need to act communally after tragic loss is nobly human. In a very clear way, protests are agnostic and haunting milieus. They are always about misplaced aggression, and more fluidly, a history of violence.

A 100 years ago, there was a large group of protestors who marched obediently in a parade…

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Writing: Race and Gender, Politics, Healthcare, Environmental Abuse, Domestic Violence

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