Human Parts
A Medium publication about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

This Is Us

We have to stop promoting ‘color blindness’ as an alternative to racism

Closeup photo of a Black woman’s face.
Closeup photo of a Black woman’s face.Closeup photo of a Black woman’s face.
Photo: Jack Hollingsworth/Getty Images

Call me Black. Seriously.

I have learned through observation that White people are afraid to use the word “black” to describe Black people. It also seems that they also don’t like talking about being White or being called White. This is true even among some of my closest White friends.

There is this fear, a look over the shoulder, a small pause or hesitation before they use the word Black in particular. …


Past Is Prologue

Working-class white people in the South have better stories to tell than the Lost Cause

Image for post
Image for postImage for post
Woman in Graham, North Carolina counter-protesting a Black Lives Matter march this past July. Photo by author.

I think she is trying to stare me down. Her eyes are leveled right at me.

In another space, at another time, we might be friendly. We might chat. I might say, “Excuse me, ma’am, my apologies,” as I bumped into her on my way to pay my bill at the diner. And she might smile at me and say, “No problem, hon.” …


This Is Us

Why parents should think twice before granting kids absolute digital privacy

Dark photo of a young girl on a smartphone.
Dark photo of a young girl on a smartphone.Dark photo of a young girl on a smartphone.
Photo: Sol de Zuasnabar Brebbia/Getty Images

So, I had the talk with my 11-year-old daughter. (Not that talk, I had that talk a couple years ago.) She stared, unblinking, as I explained how sextortion works. I began with the story of Aaron Coleman. Five years ago, when Aaron was 14 years old, he tormented middle school girls online. His actions were so hurtful that a 6th-grade girl attempted to take her own life. She told the Kansas City Star that Coleman harassed her daily, insisting she kill her “fat” self. …


Lived Through This

My job is not a defect that I need to make amends for

Person wearing high heels standing in a puddle at night.
Person wearing high heels standing in a puddle at night.Person wearing high heels standing in a puddle at night.
Photo: WIN-Initiative/Getty Images

I came into 12-step recovery as a recent sex worker. Like many sex workers, regardless of how they end up in the sex industry or their own feelings about the work, I was riddled with shame and internalized stigma. At first, recovery, and the 12-step program in particular, seemed to offer a way out of that, not dissimilar to the way evangelical Christian groups often try to “rescue” sex workers through their particular brand of religion.

At my very first meeting, I heard a woman share her experiences of sex work, which she used as a way to fund her heroin addiction. It was the first time since I had left the industry that I heard anyone speak candidly about the subject. I identified with the speaker straight away and was able to open up a little about my own struggles, including experiences of abuse in the industry. …


This Is Us

How I researched and wrote a book about my grandfather, Lucille Ball, and the imaginary affair between them

A photo of the author’s grandfather.
A photo of the author’s grandfather.A photo of the author’s grandfather.
The author’s grandfather. Photo courtesy of the author.

A commotion bangs and shakes down Old Northern Boulevard in Roslyn, New York. Dust lifts — a sedan has rattled up to the red light. Its muffler muffles nothing. You might glimpse the ancient driver leaning to the windshield, squinting. You can smell Old Spice and takeout. Exhaust echoes off suburban glass. And there in the passenger seat is a teenaged boy; you’ll hear his sobs. And then — who knows why — the sedan doesn’t move. And the cars behind start to honk…


Recently, I did something I never thought I’d want to do, or try. I exposed my family to public inquiry — their secrets and failings, their intimacies. I even placed myself in my grandmother’s marriage bed. …


Planet Soul

Balance is dead — instead, we must learn to tilt

Childs hand pressed against window in home quarantine lockdown with rain drops and green leaves outside.
Childs hand pressed against window in home quarantine lockdown with rain drops and green leaves outside.Childs hand pressed against window in home quarantine lockdown with rain drops and green leaves outside.
Photo: robert reader/Getty Images

It’s been a busy day. The kids and I have gone grocery shopping, taken the dog for a hike, cleaned out the chicken coop, and played several rounds of badminton. …

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