Skip to the article, or search this site

Home: The Toast

Double. Rainbow.

One of the best and most troubling and enraging things I’ve read in recent memory is Slate’s new investigation and meditation on young women who received “treatment” for their mental illness at an in-patient Christian center:

In her mid-20s, Hayley was diagnosed with a heart condition, which doctors told her was a side effect of her medications. But when she stopped taking the drugs, she lost control, punching walls and cutting herself out of frustration. Once, her mother became so frightened for her own safety that she called the police. Hayley spent the night in the psychiatric ward. Meanwhile, the family could barely cover its expenses, let alone Hayley’s therapy. “It was a dark time,” she says.

Then, in 2009, something cut through the darkness like a signal fire. Mercy Ministries, a network of in-patient facilities that treat young women with mental illness, addiction, and life trauma, and which has the backing of some of the most prominent names in evangelical Christianity, was opening a new residence in Lincoln, California, close to Hayley’s home. Hayley knew about Mercy because a Christian band she liked, Point of Grace, supported the program. And she learned online that Mercy’s unusual fusion of biblically inspired healing and what it described on its website as “best-practice clinical interventions” could help hurting women like herself “break free from the destructive cycles controlling their lives.” Mercy’s literature boasted that its four U.S. residences were state-licensed and that 80 percent of its counselors had master’s degrees in psychology, social work, or a related field. Hayley’s family believed that the Lincoln home would provide her with a truly integrated approach to mental health—the secular and the spiritual. Best of all, Mercy was free.

Hayley, who is a devout Christian, believed God had answered her prayers. “I thought the new home was a sign,” she says. “I wanted to believe that God would make a change in me. I wanted it desperately.”

I woke up very very early to the news of the verdict in the Hillsborough stadium disaster case, which is great and also very welcome to anyone who remembers the absolute victim-blaming garbage spouted at the time. If you’re not familiar with Hillsborough, and have claustrophobia, I would actually really recommend not Googling it, because even the images that were in the regular news footage are incredibly upsetting (I do not attend any large public events and I do not go to clubs and am very meh on concerts because I have spent too much time reading about crowd disasters, which is on me and not on venues, but there you are.) More on the verdict:

On Tuesday, a jury found that the fans who died at the match at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England, were “unlawfully killed” and the victims of police mistakes.

The jury answered yes to the crucial question of whether “there was any error or omission in police planning and preparation for the semifinal match on 15 April 1989 that caused or contributed to the dangerous situation,” in which victims suffocated to death as they entered an F.A. Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

The jury also rejected the notion that the fans were responsible for the deaths. Taken together, the findings amounted to vindication for the families of the victims and the survivors of the tragedy, who had been fighting for years to prove that the fans were victims of police conduct rather than agents of their own demise.

this is great:

When the criminal charges against her were dropped, her public defender had technically done his job. The government is required to provide a lawyer to help people through criminal court, nothing more. But Morales’s lawyer was from the Bronx Defenders, which extends representation from criminal court to family court, housing court, and court. Morales was one of 30,000 Bronx Defenders clients in 2014—the only criminal defendants in the city or the country to receive these across-the-board services.

Even after her charges were dropped, Morales had a family attorney and a parent advocate to challenge the family court judge’s ruling. When the police locked her out of her apartment, a civil lawyer from her team got them to let her back in after a few hours. Her advocate, who is not a lawyer, helped her set up parenting classes, and a social worker checked in with her to see how she was dealing with life alone and to offer moral support. Kierra finally came home in June 2014, six months after the arrest.


Audubon, you SCAMP:

During their visit, though, Audubon fed Rafinesque descriptions of American creatures, including 11 species of fish that never really existed. Rafinesque duly jotted them down in his notebook and later proffered those descriptions as evidence of new species. For 50 or so years, those 11 fish remained in the scientific record as real species, despite their very unusual features, including bulletproof (!) scales.

By the 1870s, the truth about the fish had been discovered. But the fish were only part of Audubon’s prank. In a new paper in the Archives of Natural History, Neal Woodman, a curator at Smithsonian’s natural history museum, details its fuller extent: Audubon also fabricated at least two birds, a “trivalved” brachiopod, three snails, two plants, and nine wild rats, all of which Rafinesque accepted as real.

Where have all the ear infections gone? (This is really interesting! Neither of my kids have ever had an ear infection, while my brother and I had tons, despite the fact my mom breastfed us and MY kids were almost exclusively on formula, so the vaccine connection makes a lot of sense to me):

What they were trying to do in this study, she said, was look carefully at the actual incidence of ear infections now, in this new environment, in which children are routinely vaccinated against Streptococcus pneumoniae, or pneumococcus, one of the types of bacteria that can cause ear infections (it can also cause more serious infections, including pneumonia and meningitis), and also against influenza, since viral infections like flu may precede bacterial ear infections. Neither vaccine is directed specifically at ear infections, but both have probably affected the incidence since my children were young.

study published in 2014 in JAMA Pediatrics looked at the number of medical visits for otitis media made by children up to the age of 6 and found a downward trend from 2004 to 2011, with a significant drop in 2010-11. The first routine childhood pneumococcal vaccine was introduced in 2000; we changed to a vaccine effective against a wider set of bacterial serotypes in 2010.

Friend of The Toast Bim Adewunmi spent 48 hours in Minneapolis talking to Prince fans:

Ebony likes to talk, I think, but she especially likes to talk about Prince. She tells me about her first Prince song, the poster of him (the Controversy one, where he’s in the shower looking like filth) she had to hide under her jacket so her mum wouldn’t see. She tells me how important Prince was, and is. We’re standing outside First Avenue, the venue that is synonymous with Prince and Purple Rain, and there are 30-odd people hanging around. Some people are clearly on their way to work, trouser legs clipped for bike safety, backpacks snug on their backs. Some are on walkie duty with dogs, and a good number are not immediately classifiable, beyond having an interest in Prince, or the spectacle of public mourning. Ebony’s spent more of her last few hours here than at home. “I left about 5 and it was packed,” she says, her tied-back locs bobbing. “Somebody got in a little scuffle but they got him out real quick. I was snapping. I was like, ‘Uh uh! You finna disrespect my man?’ Let him rest in peace. We’re not gonna do none of that drama here. That’s my man!”

Another beloved Friend of The Toast, Pilot Viruet, spoke to W. Kamau Bell about his new show:

Did you search Craigslist for “KKK members to hang out with me”?

Luckily they figured that if they sent a black guy to do it, it probably wouldn’t go that well, so we had our white producers reach out to people. It was funny because apparently they had to pretend like they agreed with the guys they were talking to. Like, “Yeah, you’re right, these black people dohave too many jobs.”

What was your prep for the episode like? Did you take any precautions? Because watching it, it’s just you and a small camera crew.

I had to call my wife right before and right after.

Throughout my career and my life I talk a lot about racism in this country, and if you’re going to talk about it then you’re going to eventually come to the chapter about the Klan. I’ve always been curious about that—I’ve read about and seen documentaries about it—so to me [preparation] was making sure that I was armed with that knowledge and could ask them questions in such a way that they knew what I was talking about. As a black man in this country, it’s good to know what’s going on with the Klan.

this is…unbearably bad:

Texas’ notoriously pale school lessons never taught much about the Maryland abolitionist and heroic Union Army spy-nurse.

We have an entire state holiday devoted to Civil War heroes, but only for the losing side.

You never hear about Tubman or Texas’ first Medal of Honor recipient, Milton Holland. We celebrate only Confederates.

Tubman (c. 1822-1913) is now taught in third grade. Lately, a 2010 State Board of Education rewrite has included her for “heroic deeds” along with the likes of Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell and 9-11 Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer.

She is the only African-American studied in the “heroes” section, which originally included mythical figures Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan. (A different section on “good citizens” includes Louisiana desegregation figure Ruby Bridges.)

More than two-thirds of Texas’ students are children of color, yet their lessons are mostly about whites.

Add a comment

Skip to the top of the page, search this site, or read the article again