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Our Best Social Justice Stories From This Past Year

The most important reads from our coverage of human to housing rights and everything in between.

By Kate Wheeling


Sandra. (Photo: Yadid Levy)

Who would have thought this time last year that, in 2016, a man who campaigned on a platform of white supremacy and misogyny would win the White House? Or that, after winning the presidency, he would stock his cabinet full of mostly rich, whitemen who’d like nothing more than to roll back all the social progress that’s been made into a world where whiteness reigned, sexuality was binary, and “transgender” wasn’t yet a word?

In any case, it’s now clear that, while the battle for non-human rights may be just beginning in 2016, the battle for human rights is itself far from over. Here are some of Pacific Standard’s best stories from the front lines of social progress over the last year.

In the end, the science seems almost beside the point. Brains are organs that think, and any creature with a brain — or even a ganglion — processes information. What we’re left with is a hierarchy of intelligence — and, presumably, consciousness. And it’s we humans who have the power to arbitrarily draw the line.

Month after month, sitting on an army camp stool in Iraq, he came to realize that the question was no longer whether he would transition, but how.

[T]he worst violence committed on this day was not done by the protectors, nor the police; it took place to the west of the line where the construction equipment dug into the sacred burial ground, moving the pipeline ever forward, with an invading military force to protect it.

A lot of these groups have written off Congress as gridlocked and hopeless, including the climate folks, but it’s a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, you know, because the people who haven’t written off Congress are the corporate lobbyists.

Ritual abuse was a specific nightmare, dreamed up by a society that considers childcare a maternal rather than a social responsibility.

They are paying to be poisoned.

“Yes Pecan!” might be the first ice-cream flavor to commemorate a presidential campaign.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that “anxiety disorders cost the United States more than $42 billion” annually in lost revenue or health-care services. Our first instinct is to solve for the $42 billion, not the anxiety.

All the while, the underlying racial tensions unboxed by the crime and its investigation continued to fester between those who believed from the onset that the Four were innocent, and those who believed that Hartman’s murderers were who the authorities said they were.

While some soldiers’ trauma might trace back to a single event — a terrible gunfight, an improvised explosive device that blew up a friend — others’ can be more cumulative, just pain and exhaustion built up over time. Some survive the horror of near-death experiences only to be set off by something seemingly trivial instead.

It’s not just Trump’s proposed border: We live in a wall-building age.