(Click to hear the author read ‘Conflicting Emotions’)

Straight up — is this vaccine for real?

Can’t trust the government to tell the truth

Is it for ALL people — black, brown, and white

And every color in between?

I’m not an experiment, I’m not a guinea pig

Been down that road before

Don’t want to choose between the virus and vaccine

Life and death

I can live with a mask though would rather not

I can live with the constant worry though could do without

But can’t live without a job, a home, school for the kids, and food


On March 11, Mississippi became the most recent state to ban transgender participation in sports. North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Michigan, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Alabama and Montana are considering similar legislation, to name a few. The goal of all these proposed laws is the same: to prevent transgender individuals from competing alongside their same gendered peers in team and individual sports.

Participation in team and individual sports promotes healthy behaviors that often last into adulthood. It encourages good psychosocial development, promoting collaborative leadership skills, social bonds and self-esteem. …


Editor’s note: This essay is one in a series of first-person narratives by members of the Duke community reflecting on a year living with COVID-19.

Last summer, I found myself preparing for a class I never expected to teach. The class, GSF 225: Women in the Political Process, is supported by a generous donation from Ruth Huffman Carr with the stipulation that it be taught every fall of an election year. …


Editor’s note: This essay is one in a series of first-person narratives by members of the Duke community reflecting on a year living with COVID-19.

Nearly everyone has had a pandemic birthday. So to celebrate mine this year, I had a few Zoom calls with friends and family. But it was my 50th birthday. It was supposed to be special.

I had envisioned a joyous, raucous celebration surrounded by love ones with food. Instead, we watched a movie about food — Chef — and ordered in burgers. I would be lying if I said that I was not disappointed. I…


Editor’s note: This video essay is one in a series of first-person narratives by members of the Duke community reflecting on a year living with COVID-19.

“I’ve been teaching students, getting to know students, advising students, writing recommendation letters for students, and at times, comforting and counseling students who are crying, without ever having had the chance to meet them in person.”


Editor’s note: This is one in a series of first-person essays by members of the Duke community reflecting on a year living with COVID-19.

“Interrupting angels.” Who knew such things were ever imagined?

In my teaching and research in the area of Jewish magic and mysticism, I’ve become acquainted with all sorts of angels. Angels of wrath and of mercy. Angels of esoteric knowledge and crafty deceit. Angels for each nation, and angels for every mood. The angel of rain, of the sea, and of destiny. I think of such figures as reflecting pre-modern ways of understanding invisible, intangible, and…


Editor’s note: This is one in a series of first-person essays by members of the Duke community reflecting on a year living with COVID-19.

As we approach a year of being in the pandemic, I think about my father. He’s that guy who cringes when the person beside him sneezes, so I’m accustomed to living with the idea that others are potential vectors of disease. Because his phobia is not clinical, it has been met with levity in our family. But, I really miss the levity of my father’s germ phobia during this pandemic. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed such a change…


By David Schanzer

During congressional testimony last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray stated that “The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing across the country for a long time now, and it’s not going away anytime soon.”

Wray’s characterization of domestic terrorism as a fatal disease that is rapidly spreading through our body politic should alarm us all. The Capitol riot and recent polls showing strong support for political violence represent dramatic warning signs. Failure to act aggressively against domestic extremism will most surely mean more political violence within our borders, and soon.

Some want to write off the Capitol…


Editor’s note: This is one in a series of first-person essays by members of the Duke community reflecting on a year living with COVID-19.

On the first day of class last August, I stared at the tape on the floor and decided to take a picture. This represented the invisible wall I was supposed to stand behind to keep myself (and the students) safe, a ‘shield charm’ of sorts in the Hogwarts world. Likewise, stickers were scattered on the floor around the classroom to indicate the location of the desks, six feet apart. As an instructor who likes the freedom…


By Peter H. Wood and Harlan J. Gradin

This image from the U.S. Senate archives depicts the assault on Sen. Charles Sumner in 1856.

This essay appeared first in Tropics of Meta.

These days, when angry white supremacists attack their political opponents in public, onlookers use cell phone video to capture threats of violence aimed at elected officials. In May 2020, when armed militia groups in Lansing challenged Michigan’s governor by invaded the state house, images of their brazen action circulated nationally on Facebook and network news. Then in January 2021, thousands of right-wing conspiracy believers, cell phones in hand, attacked on the U.S. …

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