America is an oligarchy organized by the hierarchy of the white supremacist patriarchy. Pancake Brain is a (free) Friday newsletter dedicated to replacing the status quo with equitable public power, and a community dedicated to building the discipline of democracy that equity requires. We move through the world committed to a daily practice of activism and critical thinking. We reject limitations and embrace the possibilities of social imagination, certain that the queer future is better than anything we’ve yet dreamed up. We insist on our right and duty to the political conversation, and empower others to join us. Out of love for ourselves and the collective, we are engaged in a sustainable practice of freedom, endlessly un-fucking our brains.
Dearest Pancake Brains,
I started this newsletter in October, after once again coming to the conclusion that Twitter is hell on Earth. I have been on a journey of recovery from PTSD, and in the height of releasing my trauma, I would have regular nightmares in which I was being hunted by a murderer. The worst part was not the chase, but strikes of lucidity. (Intermittently, it would occur to me that I was dreaming, but that spark of remembering was always followed by the understanding that I would soon forget. Then my agency would disappear, as I was cast back into self-concocted terror.) That’s not entirely unlike closing out of my mentions on Twitter. It is absolutely insane that we’re choosing to plug our brains into machines that make us angry and dumb.
And yet, as a writer hoping to address my personal idiosyncrasies of paying for rent and healthcare, I have felt compelled to maintain my platform on that godforsaken website. At least once a month, I vow to quit, and sometimes do disappear for a while, hoping to recharge at least enough to build a sustainable practice of fighting back. It has struck me, yet again, that I need to find a better way.
When I sent my first newsletter in the fall, I was thrilled by the idea that I could write directly to people who didn’t have an explicit desire to stab me in the face. The very idea of a niche audience healed me a bit. I knocked out a few original essays, but soon lost steam, weighed by anxiety’s constant nagging about “monetization.” I wondered if it was even worth it, and gave up, settling to send occasional roundups of pieces I had published elsewhere along with a quick set of tips for those who had read “How to Start a Revolution” to continue their disciplines of democracy. (Once again: I personally apologize for my role in the capitalism, but please do grab a copy, if you haven’t already. It’s also available via Audible, if you’d rather hang out with me in your headphones.)
I now feel compelled to pour myself into the pursuit of translating the constant work of liberation into this newsletter. In addition to action items, I will be writing essays that intend to challenge the stories and patterns of the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.
The systems of oppression are powerful, but we must not be bound by them. The work of transcendence is not a singular epiphany, but a daily habit. To be free means to continually ask who makes the rules, challenging both authority and ourselves. We’ve been force-fed lifetimes of poison, much of which reigns unchecked. The decision to go into recovery must be a new state of being that we constantly maintain through the process of calling bullshit. (For example: Why the fuck is the Democratic primary process determined in large part by a block party for white people that occasionally ends with a coin toss?)
When I first launched this Substack account, there was a viral story about an Ernst & Young training that instructed female executives that women’s brains are “like pancakes” and said we should cover up because “sexuality scrambles the mind.”
That’s what inspired the title, and I’d like to instill it with fresh meaning: Our brains have been fucked by an oligarchy that follows the hierarchy of the white supremacist patriarchy, and we must insist on building a healthy sense of what it means to be human. Since I experienced the political awakening after Trump’s election, I have committed to un-fucking my brain, and it has led me to the conclusion that we must actively love ourselves so that we can fully invest in the collective. That work requires the conscious deconstruction of the binaries currently imprisoning our mind. For now, that is what Pancake Brain will be about: destroying the old habits so that we can expand our social imagination to include equity, sustainability, and joy. (If you’d like to read about how that philosophy is connected to queer futurity, this coming out piece is my second favorite thing I’ve ever published.)
By next week, I plan to release a proper mission statement. For now, I am also committing to emailing you every Friday with fresh essays. Down the road, I am planning to add interviews and special features, including a book club with a discussion thread. My biggest dream for Pancake Brain is that it can grow into a community… that allows us all to quit Twitter. (I mean, just kidding, you can go spiritually self-harm all you want, but wouldn’t it be nice to grow a little virtual garden together where there is no one who feels compelled to express themselves through murder?)
I am resisting the urge to let my inner perfectionist have her way with this plan, opting instead to let this newsletter develop in conversation with you all. I want to hear your thoughts and feelings. What would you like to see in your inbox each week? Do you have any special requests for topics?
Right now, I am planning to explore not only the realm of the traditionally political, but also cultural objects that allow us to dissect structures of power and further claim the liberty of self-determination. (Read: OK, fine, I admit it, I’m tempted to write about the Taylor Swift Netflix documentary.)
If you subscribed early on, thank you so much for sticking with me. I’m excited to make Pancake Brain something amazing with your help. If you just joined, welcome!
As promised, each week will continue with concrete actions that you can include in your habit of freedom. We have to prioritize active citizenship. I suggest committing to a number of hours each month. Maybe that’s just three or four, maybe it’s more like 20. Like anything else, you have to prioritize the work of raising your voice.
Given the state of the primary, I would urge you to consider making donations or calls for your candidate. I have been open about the fact that my heart beats for Elizabeth Warren, but I suggest getting involved with whoever you are most excited about. Stop letting the gatekeepers inform you that there is a real possibility that this process could be bought by some weird ass billionaire lizard man, get out there, and shape the race yourself.
Sending you all love and strength until next week.
With earnest irreverence,