What’s one more dead Maria, or less?

Fé Lopez
Executive Director
Community Police Commission
PO Box 94765
Seattle, WA 98124-7065

Dear Ms. Lopez and Commissioners:

Thank you for considering my application to become your Community Engagement and Communications Specialist, a position that attracted my attention from the City of Seattle jobs board while I was researching the availability of positions and need for healthier communications at the downtown library. This challenging position sounds as if it is uniquely designed for my depth and breadth of education, skills, experiences, and career goals contributing to or building healthy community.

When my ex-husband, currently a prosecutor with Oregon’s Department of Justice, recommended that I contact former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington Jenny Durkan directly with my concerns about her investigation resolving the abuses within Seattle Police Department, it is not that I did not listen to his perspective, only that I was not then in a position to pick up the phone and command the attention of someone in her position. Familial and systemic social abuses further delayed my written analysis of the problem and recommended design solution. Even with a graduate degree, analyzing complex legal, psychological, and sociological issues are not easier or faster for me than for any lawyer, and of course I have access to none of a police or legal department’s staff, your community board expertise, or other resources. By the time I posted my open letter describing my experiences to one of my former husband’s former professors, now the director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford, Ms. Durkan had vacated her former position and you have by now put considerable energy and effort into what I would describe as design research, listening to the needs and concerns of y/our internal and external community stakeholders.


all we want is peace

All We Want Is Peace, 2011, 76.5×57 cm, charcoal on Fabriano Artistico. Collection Rick Williams.

My immediate question, while participating in the totem carving and hearing Rick Williams’ plea for peace, was to wonder if the Department of Justice had not merely reviewed excessive force only from its point of greatest aggression, but had Ms. Durkan flipped the dichotomy upside-down and also investigated the problem of bias from the opposite pole or weakest point, the lack of nurturing within victim support services? This complex question, the presence of abuse in tandem with the absence of nurturing, was the topic of my graduate research into critical theories of identity, trauma, and the taboo, and, even before reading the DOJ review, my experiences interviewing with Seattle Police Department’s administrative “victim support” staff answered for me resoundingly that, no, she had not.

honey detail

Wild Child, 2008, 26.5×28.5×6.5 cm. Title refers to le jeune fille sauvage, the creature that philosopher Giorgio Agamben describes at the border of difference between man [sic] and animal. My MFA thesis explored critical theories of difference, sexual difference, desire, trauma, and taboo. Pigment ink jet and letterpress on Magnani Pescia, paste paper covers on museum boards, linen thread, exposed hemp cords, variable edition 6 signed and numbered, included in the collection at the University of Idaho Library, Moscow, close detail of gatefold section with beeswax seal.

After I observed Seattle Police Department’s Volunteer Supervisor for Victim Support Services struggling with all of the communications technologies at her disposal, curling her lip in revulsion against my contribution to the memorial carving project, sneering at me for my poverty, and then ker-plopping in front of me a stack of visually illiterate or what in the design-educated field is described as vernacular designed brochures leading to the lack of resources for the Great Recession’s educated poor, communicating to me nothing more than yet again this community’s desperate need for my educated skills, I did not set out to likely solve a 17-year-old cold case homicide, merely to check my memory against historic fact before blogging design solutions to communication problems that remain unresolved despite the DOJ’s $3.3 billion investment in one vernacular designed communications model that only exacerbates the problem it purports to solve by teaching passive aggressive communication.

I could be wrong. I do not have access to evidence files. But from what I know of basic human psychology as well as the system between criminal action and conviction, I suspect my gut instinct was right all those years ago. You try Googling body in the desert and Tucson or Las Vegas; what do you come up with? A nation that could not care less about another dead Maria. More or less.

If Seattle would like to develop a national model for healthy communication between and among law enforcement and community, here’s how to shift from passive aggressive communication and learn active, empathetic listening and conflict resolution skills, or Unplay that Shame and Blame Game in both our public and private spheres:

As you can see from my detailed cv, my education and experiences exceed the minimum qualifications you’ve listed for the position:

  • An MFA trumps a baccalaureate degree, art is visual communication, design is related to planning, a Ph.D. sociologist joined my graduate committee, and my bibliography includes editorial review of one of her articles prior to its acceptance for publication in a scholarly journal.
  • My youthful work history in real estate development, civil engineering, and public water resources includes more than three years of experience directly related to community planning and development, combined together with my teaching experiences and studies of the psychoanalytic theories underpinning my thesis work, leave me exceeding your expectations for the position.

Adding to my college courses in human psychology, my graduate school readings in psychoanalytic theory, and my teaching experiences in a college drawing studio classroom in which I observed in my students strong parallels with successful clinical talking therapy, my experience of a month-long violation of my civil liberties for: 1) my second ex-father-in-law’s career, 2) my first ex-husband’s criminally abusive behavior, and 3) my genealogy, because I had the personal bad fortune to be born into an abusive family and, in my post-graduate school job-seeking coincident with the Great Recession, encountered police and made my way through an entire state’s system of so-called mental health “professionals” themselves too mentally unsound to consider checking public records before determining “delusion” from real biography and historic facts, I am now eminently qualified to help police departments across our nation develop healthier communication skills or with planning and executing communications strategies between and among law enforcement and y/our civilian community, particularly when interacting with, as you say, “affected communities (those with difficult relationships with the police).”

To your punchlist of desired characteristics for your successful candidate, “excellent writing and oral communication skills, preferably in cross-cultural contexts,” I encourage you to add visual communication skills essential for thought-provoking, clear, and persuasive 21st century communication strategies as well as your review of my visual portfolio. For further writing samples relevant to the position, see additional blogposts:

To further the dialogue, I welcome challenging questions from you, your staff, board, or members of our local or global community.


Jana Brubaker

3 thoughts on “What’s one more dead Maria, or less?

  1. Pingback: Why Amazon? | journal6other

  2. Pingback: Resetting Your Moral Compass | journal6other

  3. Pingback: Resetting Your Moral Compass | journal6other

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