To kill a word, you first have to kill an idea

Photo: Julian Myles via Unsplash

The last time somebody called me a n****r, I was on holiday.

I’d just arrived in Skopje, North Macedonia, innocently searching for something to get the taste of airline food out of my mouth, when I heard a shout from across the street:

“Hey! You! Uh… you are n****r.”

I looked over and saw a boy, no more than 18 years old, sitting on his bike. He waited for my reaction, his foot poised on the pedal in case I decided to chase him. I hadn’t provoked him. He was half my size, his English was barely up to the…


What happens when the narrative outpaces the truth?

Photo by Ike louie Natividad from Pexels

If you’ve been anywhere near a screen in the past week, you’ve probably heard that on March 16th, a man named Robert Long attacked two massage parlours in Atlanta killing eight people and seriously injuring another. You’ve also likely heard that six of the eight victims were Asian women. And if you’ve heard that much, you’ve almost certainly heard that the shootings were racially motivated.

In the days following the attack, news outlets published a string of reports blaming Long’s actions on racism. Daily Show host, Trevor Noah, made the case more clearly than most in a viral video:

“…The…


Sometimes justice doesn’t feel fair.

Photo by Juan Manuel Merino on Unsplash

Anyone hoping to understand the difference between revenge and justice need look no further than this scene from the 2003 Tarantino classic, Kill Bill.

For those who haven’t seen this masterpiece, Kill Bill tells the story of an assassin named Beatrix Kiddo, who tries to start a new life after falling in love and getting pregnant. Unfortunately, Bill (her former boss) and the rest of her old crew track her down on her wedding day, murder her fiancé, the priest, and the rest of the congregation, and shoot her in the head.

Beatrix wakes up four years later to discover…


When do we finally look beyond colour?

Photo: Dmitry Ageev/Getty Images

According to writer Gyles Brandreth, the average person speaks around 860,341,500 words during their lifetime. If you start talking at one and live to be 80, that’s about 30,000 words a day.

Most will be forgotten by everybody, including you, as soon as they’re out of your mouth. Others will stick around for a few weeks before drifting into obscurity. But now and then, someone says something we’ll remember for years or even generations afterward. Their words express just the right idea, in just the right way, at just the right time.

If you ask me, there’s no better example…


When you’re a star, they let you do it.

Source — Wikimedia Commons

I was pretty easy to entertain as a child. All I needed was a TV, an irresponsible amount of sugar, and some cartoons.

It didn’t even matter which cartoon it was, because let’s face it, they’re all pretty much identical. The good guys win, the bad guys get away (so they can do battle again next week), and everybody learns a valuable lesson in the end. The details change, but the story stays the same.

Now that I’m an adult, I’ve (mostly) outgrown repetitive, predictable stories, which is why I’ve found it so painful to watch Donald Trump’s impeachment. The…


The underrated joys of causing trouble online.

Source — XKCD

There’s something irresistible about clicking on an article that I know I’m going to hate. Where the headline alone is enough to make my jaw tighten and my shoulders tense. A more mature person would ignore the bait. Or at worst, skim over a few lines, roll their eyes, and move on like a mentally well-adjusted adult.

But I am neither mature nor mentally well-adjusted. Which is why I’ve been commenting.

It started with the occasional snarky comment or a cherry-picked takedown aimed at one faulty sentence. But it steadily matured into thoughtful counter-arguments to the whole piece. I read…


You might think it’s helping — it’s not

Black and white photo of young boy with hand on head.
Black and white photo of young boy with hand on head.
Photo: Nappy.co

You’re not supposed to talk about how frustrating it is to watch children screw things up.

You’re supposed to be patient when it takes them 17 minutes to tie their shoelaces. You’re supposed to applaud their migraine-inducing attempts to play the violin. You’re supposed to give your undivided attention as they tell stories that somehow lack a beginning, a middle, and an end.

But worst of all is when a child wants to “help” you with something. You know that accepting their help will quadruple the time, energy, and resources required to get anything done. You realise that it’d be…


Hatred thrives on simplicity

Photo by Koshu Kunii on Unsplash

There’s a snippet from a 2013 interview which perfectly sums up the challenge Joe Biden faces in uniting America.

In the clip, Charlie Rose asks two well-known designers, Jony Ive and Marc Newson, to explain why they work so well together:

“I think in some ways that’s why we’re the close friends that we are,” says Jony. “We share the same view of the world and the same taste, and we relate to the same attributes or aspects of an object.”

There’s a brief pause, then Marc smiles.

“Most importantly,” he adds. “We really hate the same things.”

If there’s…


Everything you wanted to know about “multiracial whiteness” but were too intelligent to ask

Photo by nana o. on Unsplash

I’m tempted to begin and end this essay about what “multiracial whiteness” is, with the word “stupid”. But given that my New Year’s resolution for 2021 is to be more charitable, let’s look a little deeper.

I first heard the term a few days ago, when a friend sent me this article entitled “To Understand Trump’s Support, We Must Think in Terms of Multiracial Whiteness” (I swear she only sends me these things because she enjoys seeing the little vein in my temple throb).

Written by Cristina Beltrán, an associate professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University…

Steve QJ

Race. Politics. Culture. Sometimes other things. Almost always polite. https://steveqj.com

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