E.J. Graff

Why Hasn’t George Zimmerman Been Arrested Yet?

(AP Photo)

I have a new email correspondent—let’s call him “Joe,” because he doesn’t want to be named—who has suggested to me that the media storm about Trayvon is more than a little out of control. Joe writes: why isn’t there coverage to how many more young black men die at the hands of other black men? Why isn’t there a national uproar when black men murder white men? (He’s sent me clippings of a trial in one such Florida murder.) I’ve gotten hate mail, too, but from the exchanges we’ve had, my sense is that Joe’s different; he’s seriously trying to have a conversation.

So let me say this: what’s deeply upsetting to me is that, more than a month after a teenage boy was killed while walking home with Skittles, George Zimmerman has not even been arrested.

Poetry As More Than Pretty Words



When a great feminist poet dies—a poet powerful enough to have left her mark in the minds of several generations of young women and men, powerful enough to have her obituary on the front page of the New York Times’ website—who do you want to write the obituary? Why, another feminist poet, of course, one whose work is also shaping the minds, etc.

So don’t miss Katha Pollitt, in The New Yorker, examining Adrienne Rich’s place in poetry and the 20th century, and poetry’s shifting place in the nation. Some of the highlights: 

How Do You Remember Adrienne Rich?

(AP Photo / Charles Knoblock)

On my Facebook page, I asked friends to post excerpts by which they would remember Adrienne Rich. Here they are:

Good Night to Adrienne Rich

(Flickr/K Kendall)

She was fierce. Once, when I was a shy young poet-hopeful who wrote for the feminist and gay press, I met her. I worried when she said she was following my writing (did I mention I was shy? and young?), because I couldn’t imagine anyone so august reading my work except to critique it. I preferred to follow her at a safe distance, through her writing, with their searing instructions to be awake, true, and relentless in observing the world honestly.

Son, You Could Be Trayvon


I’m furious that Trayvon Martin is getting blamed for his own murder. If smoking pot in high school were an executable offense, as the Miami Herald seems to suggest, we would cut the U.S. population by about a third. Add tardiness to the list—again, as the Miami Herald seems to be doing—and I believe we could eliminate Social Security entirely. 

Friday Miscellany

  • With Passover approaching, it’s time to ask the White House: which haggadah will you use? #Obama #MaxwellHouse
  • Speaking of which, my father had a theory that so many Jews are intellectually limber because they learn Hebrew—an extremely foreign language for English speakers—at such a young age. I wish I could call him up (how stupid he was to die!) and tell him he might be right, according to the neurologists:

The Hoodie

(Flickr/Manic Street Preacher)

You may have already been outraged to hear that Geraldo is blaming the hoodie for Trayvon Martin’s death. Of course he’s wrong. Short skirts don’t rape women; men rape women. Hoodies don’t shoot Skittles-toting teenagers; overzealous neighborhood watch guys shoot teenagers. The blame lies squarely with the rapist or killer, not the victim. And it lies with the racism that keeps getting passed on through our culture, just below the radar. I am regularly appalled when, on family movie night, we watch some children’s movie that friends recommended—and realize that the only African Americans are the bad guys.

Time for Lessons on “Living While Black”

(Flickr/Ruddington Photos)

Two days ago, I wrote about Trayvon Martin’s killing and my fears for my own little guy. I’ve been reading about it obsessively, as I suspect many people have been. Adam Weinstein’s explainer at Mother Jones has my go-to stop for the latest developments. Sally Kohn has a good summary of the implicit bias research here.

Is the Blunt Amendment a Wedge to Bring Down ACA?


You’ve been reading me go on and on. Now you get to see for yourself exactly how much fun I have talking about the contraception wars, et al. Sarah Posner had me on her Bloggingheads.tv show, which was posted last night. This particular excerpt starts close to the end, but if you want more of our chat, go ahead and start it at the beginning.

Oh, and if you want to bring me to speak at your campus, church, or other forum, lemme know!


More on Tyler Clementi

(AP Photo)

Richard Kim at The Nation has the smartest take on the conviction that I’ve seen, combing carefully through the evidence and thinking about the conclusions. Please do pop over and read it (and then come back here, of course!). Some excerpts:

Walking While Black

AP File Photo

I’m sick to my stomach about the Trayvon Martin shooting that Jamelle Bouie mentioned here yesterday.

Over the weekend, Charles Blow at The New York Times (once again, my favorite columnist) wrote:

Who Killed Tyler Clementi?

(AP Photo/John Munson)

In September 2010, Rutgers student Dharun Ravi used a webcam to spy on his roommate having sex with another man (he didn’t tape him or broadcast him; he just took a few quick peeps and tweeted about it, according to in-depth reporting by Ian Parker at The New Yorker). Three weeks later, that roommate, Tyler Clementi, jumped off a bridge to his death. On Friday, a New Jersey jury convicted Ravi of 15 charges, including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation. Some of the charges carry possible sentences of ten years in prison. Because Ravi was born in India and arrived in the United States at the age of two, he could also be deported to a country he scarcely knows.

Encyclopedia of Silly Walks

(Flickr/Todd Mecklam)

Here’s a little something to enjoy, posted in honor of the final print edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Silver Lining for the Ladies

Women protesting at White House in 1917

Tigger and Eeyore are battling it out inside me this week. I can’t tell whether to be depressed over what Maureen Dowd calls “the attempt by Republican men to wrestle American women back into chastity belts” or invigorated by the myriad ways women are chronicling it and fighting back. Are women really gonna get dragged back to the scarlet-letter era—why not just repeal the 19th amendment!—or is all this going to set off a revitalized third feminist wave? 

Eeyore: In a surreal move, the Arizona Legislature’s Senate Judiciary committee has introduced a bill that would: