What does it mean for my humanity as an Asian-American woman when you can only see me as an object?

Compelling personal stories
told by the people living them. At the beginning of this year, I became obsessed with foraging for vintage objects. I spent hours perusing Facebook Marketplace. Unsatiated, I started following vintage Instagrammers in Pittsburgh; one bio described their account as selling “joyful and thoughtfully chosen thrifted home goods.” Local Pittsburghers sourced thrift stores, estate sales and their grandma’s attics, populating my Instagram feed. I found myself impulsively buying a Le Creuset Dutch oven shaped like a tomato, delicate beaded grapes and pears, and a mid-century modern wooden cheese plate.

Endless buffering: Local schools try to solve students’ internet access issues on their own

Carla Rathway could hear her youngest son's frustration from the other room. She knew the clamor meant the internet was acting up again and keeping 12-year-old Preston from his school work. It happened all the time. "He's like, 'Oh my gosh,' when it's buffering or locking him out,” Rathway said, adding she also overhears him saying, "'I hate this internet.'"

Like scores of Pennsylvania students, Preston, a seventh grader at Belle Vernon Area School District in Westmoreland County, and his brother, 15-year-old tenth-grader Dylan, were in their second month of online learning this October. But the brothers were doing it all without a reliable high-speed internet connection at home, where they live across the county line in Fayette County.

WATCH: ‘Don’t Clip Our Tails,’ a Pittsburgh poet’s reflection on racial justice



In late May, as Pittsburgh activists were planning the first of many protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, rapper and poet Shyheim Banks received a text from local organizers. Their request: Could he speak or recite a poem at an upcoming demonstration? Banks, who performs under the name Treble NLS and is the head teaching artist for 1Hood Media, wrote a poem called “Don’t Clip Our Tails.” The piece  stems from a conversation he had recently had with a white woman on the topic of race in America, specifically how she felt young Black men should act in the presence of authority figures. PublicSource visual storyteller Ryan Loew, who met Banks at a demonstration this summer, collaborated with him to visualize the poem. This video is the result of that collaboration.

Arnie Newsome, 67, stands at his shoeshine station in the Grant Building. He is one of the few shoeshiners remaining Downtown. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

My neighbor’s sole business is ‘closed until further notice’

I remember the day in late May when my neighbor Arnie went Downtown for the first time since the pandemic hit the U.S. in March. “It’s a ghost town,” he said. For the past 27 years, Arnie has operated a shoeshine station in the Grant Building in Downtown Pittsburgh. “All of my customers are working from home. The shops where I get my supplies are closed,” he said. “ I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

Pittsburgh protesters walk down a downtown street.

Pittsburgh in Protest: A slow-motion time capsule of the local movement

Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis on May 25, demonstrations around the country have called for racial justice. Those calls have not let up, and here in the Pittsburgh region, protests have filled the streets for months.

Protesters have marched, danced, sung and shouted. These protests are often loud and kinetic, filled with chants and fast-moving events. Scores of people attending the protests regularly witness this energy firsthand, while plenty more see these actions through the small handheld window of an online livestream. With so much happening all at once, PublicSource used slow motion videography to film scenes from two days of recent demonstrations. The result is a quiet, slowed-down time capsule of a critical moment in American history, happening here at home.

Sally Hobart Alexander with her guide dog, Dave. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

COVID-19 is bringing about the end of touch as we know it, and touch has been my imperfect substitute for sight.

Dr. Anthony Fauci suggests that COVID-19 may end the era of the handshake. Others predict that the world of touch outside intimate loved ones is over. Should this come to pass, I will adapt. But as someone totally blind for the past 50 years and moderately deaf, I am already grieving the hugs and handshake restrictions. Disability has fed my appreciation of touch.

Jessica Benham is the cofounder of the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy and the Democratic nominee in PA House District 36. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Disability justice is not just ramps and curb cuts; it spans health, education, the environment and more.

This year, the Americans with Disabilities Act and I, both, turn 30. The ADA is one of the pieces of legislation that provides a patchwork of civil rights protections for people with disabilities. Many of these disability civil rights laws, including the ADA, create an incomplete quilt of protections only enforceable through lawsuit. I want to live in a region, state and country where you don’t have to sue for basic rights. And, for me, it’s not just a political pursuit — it’s personal.