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We can do better

Jordan 2020-06-02

Being the primary meal preparer between myself and Michela during quarantine also means that I strongly influence what we pick up on our weekly grocery trips. It’s not that I’m an amazing cook, but thousands of hours of food media have definitely emboldened me: I may not be amazing, but I am fearless in the kitchen. Some of our quarantine staples have been: pan fried chicken thigh, roasted broccoli, Chinese string beans, chili-lime kale salad, french omelette with cheese, kimchi fried rice, tacos with fajita veggies, and Chinese egg and tomato. We also cook frozen food, ramen, pasta, rice and other grains, and we also order-in a few times a week. We get variety, but I also have a bias towards familiarity so I don’t go looking for new recipes the way I did with Mark when cooking was a weekend activity instead of something I do to have food.

Michela and I have been reading about police abolitionism, which it turns out actually isn’t very radical. The main idea is just that most cities in the US today task their police forces with a lot of stuff that might be better handled by other organizations: answering calls about people living on the street, mental illness calls, and small crimes. Abolitionism is a call to shift funding from the police to these other organizations and social programs which reduce crime.

A few weeks ago when we went grocery shopping, Michela picked up some fresh rosemary. I was skeptical about how we would use it. She didn’t have a plan, and we’ve let food go bad accidentally several times in the last few months, so I’ve been trying to take a conservative attitude on groceries, only buying things when I had a plan to use them. The rosemary ended up sitting in the bottom of our fridge for several weeks, despite near-daily reminders I would bother Michela with, that we still needed to use the rosemary.

My first response to the idea of abolition was that it made sense but I wasn’t sure why it was preferred over reform. Reform has been “tried” but to the extent that it hasn’t worked I also feel like it hasn’t been wholeheartedly implemented. Part of the problem is that attempts to reform the police from the outside tend to be met with extreme skepticism and patronization from the officers, according to Vitale in “The End of Policing.” Vitale also calls out reformist policies like community policing – the idea of some prototype of policing where neighborhood police are known and respected in the community – which call for things like increasing reliance on Police Athletic Leagues, positive non-enforcement activities with youth, and more focus on getting to know community members, things that Vitale says do not reduce crime. It’s worth noting that community policing has been shown to increase trust in the police and decrease perceptions of biased treatment, even among residents in high crime and high poverty neighborhoods.

Yesterday we made rosemary pesto off of a recipe from the internet. It asked us to make the pesto in a food processor, which didn’t work for us because the rosemary needles just got mucky and wouldn’t pulse, so we scraped it out and chopped it up on a cutting board. The pesto was delicious after we added some lemon juice and pasta water. I’ve never cooked with rosemary before, and I probably wouldn’t have if Michela hadn’t pushed it on me, so maybe I should be less resistant to buying things I don’t yet know how to cook. Being forced to use rosemary taught me about it as an ingredient. It’s intensely herby and a little throaty. Fresh rosemary has a sort of bitterness to its aftertaste, but by adding more acidity and salt we were able to balance it out.

While there is room for investigation when looking at reform and abolition, I do think that from the current state of things, both kinds of policies move us in the correct direction. The rerouting of funding is overdue. As Dallas police chief David Brown said,

“We’re asking cops to do too much in this country. We are. Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, let the cops handle it … Here in Dallas we got a loose dog problem; let’s have the cops chase loose dogs. Schools fail, let’s give it to the cops … that’s too much to ask. Policing was never meant to solve all those problems.”

This blog officially endorses police abolitionism and rosemary.