Entries Tagged as 'Reading List'

A post-Charlottesville reading list

August 20, 2017

Here is the thing I want white liberals to know about Charlottesville: I highly doubt that most 2016 Republican/Trump voters are terribly upset about Nazis marching with torches, or that the past week has been any sort of tipping point for them. I would love to be wrong about this, but it seems pretty unlikely that if you voted for him/this party, that you’d suddenly be like, Oh, wow, these statues *do* need to come down, or that you’d actually see a difference between neo-Nazis and BLM (a LOT of white people think Black Lives Matter is a hate group! a lot!!!), or that you’d care if the POTUS said both sides had bad people — because you probably agree. And also, intimidation of or violence against black people (or the white people who care about us) actually…doesn’t…move…a lot of white people? I don’t think they really care what happens to us or care if a Nazi drives a car into a crowd of us, because they believe on some level that we deserve what we get if we don’t know our place. And that sucks! But, like, come on — most of those “nice” white Republicans (like the parents of all my friends growing up, and a not-insignificant amount of my college friends) or even the “nice” white people who “don’t do politics” aren’t actually bothered by any of this, or have honestly even thought that much about it at all. And if you think that I am wrong about this, please go read the comments from all the “nice” white ladies on this video of Heather Heyer’s mother on GMA

Onto the reading list…

White Feelings: 0-60 for Charlottesville, Erynn Brook.

White Liberals Still Don’t Understand White Supremacy, Harper’s Bazaar. “Racism doesn’t always look like the KKK marching hoodless in broad daylight. Racism also looks like white liberals getting angry at people of color who ask them to confront how they benefit from white supremacy and white privilege. It looks like white women telling me that I am being divisive by asking for an honest conversation about race and racism within feminist circles. It looks like tone-policing, emotional labor, objectification, fetishization, the white-savior complex, staying silent when you hear overt racism, saying nothing about working in a mostly white to all-white office, ignoring gentrification and the school-to-prison pipeline, loving The Help but hating Girls Trip.”

The Truth About Women and White Supremacy, The Cut. “Tyler spearheaded the Women of the Klu Klux Klan, the all-women, autonomous arm of the KKK that had roughly half-a-million members during the 1920s. As I wrote in a Timeline piece on the WKKK, the organization was savvier than its male counterpart because ‘they were better than the men’s group at hiding their white supremacist mission behind a facade of social welfare.’ The group helped to normalize the terrorism of the men’s KKK. Pamphlets from the time read, ‘Are you interested in the Welfare of our Nation? As an Enfranchised woman are you interested in better government?’ Through picnics, lunches, and cross burnings, these white women rallied around racist immigration laws, anti-miscegenation, and segregation.”

And some other “nice” white ladies.

The Many Lives of Hazel Bryan, Slate.

Love Needs Fury To Defeat Hate, Fader. “Neither is love inaction, silence, or complicity. Love does not stand down in the face of terror. Love does not demand silence in the face of injustice or submission in the face of oppression and its attendant brutalities. Real love proves more expansive and powerful than previously imagined when tested by the specter of death.”

For Our White Friends Desiring to Be Allies, Sojourners. “Privilege means that you owe a debt. You were born with it. You didn’t ask for it. And you didn’t pay for it either. No one is blaming you for having it. You are lovely, human, and amazing. Being a citizen of a society requires work from everyone within that society. It is up to you whether you choose to acknowledge the work that is yours to do. It is up to you whether you choose to pay this debt and how you choose to do so. Sometimes living with privilege can disillusion us into thinking that being in community with other humans doesn’t require work. This is a lie; it requires a great deal of work. And all of that work requires being a human and trying to love other humans well.” This quote will stick with me for a long time.

There Was Never Doubt Over What Trump Thought of Charlottesville, Salon. God, the number of “Why won’t he just denounce the neo-Nazis?” headlines this week was OUTRAGEOUS. WE KNOW WHY.

Is America Headed for a New Kind of Civil War?, The New Yorker. The article is less terrifying than the hed, FYI.

How Corey Long Fought White Supremacy With Fire, The Root.

Father of White Nationalist Denounces His Son After Charlottesville: He’s ‘Not Welcome at Family Gatherings Any Longer’, The Cut. TBH, I thought this was going to be kind of basic, but it’s legit.

Why the Charlottesville Marchers Were Obsessed With Jews, The Atlantic.

If you’re still sad about the removal of these statues, please read this thread about the origins of Confederate monuments, and just how worthless they are.

Speaking of statues, can y’all get this out of the goddamn Capitol?

“Condemning killing is the easiest thing. It does not take courage. It doesn’t mean one supports the advancement of civil rights or equality.” Read this thread from Hannah Nikole-Jones.

This episode of The Daily is great — legitimately so inspiring.

And here’s one link that’s just for my black and brown friends who are reading this.

I’ll post my regular links for the week later tonight.

The best things I read in 2016

December 23, 2016

Photo: Death to the Stock Photo

2016 produced a lot of great Internet, a sampling of which I’ve rounded up below. Tell your Pocket to gird its loins! (FYI, all the links will automatically open in a new tab.)

Here Is The Powerful Letter The Stanford Victim Read Aloud To Her Attacker, BuzzFeed. This is, without question, the most moving thing I read this year.

What to do when you’re not the hero any more, NewStatesman. This was published in late December 2015, but I’m including it anyway because 1) I read it in January, 2) things published in December never make it on any best-of lists, and 3) it’s just so damn good and really stuck with me.

I’m a Previvor, Catapult.

The Funny Thing About Abusive Relationships, NY Mag.

St. Teresa and the Single Ladies, The New York Times.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting The Collapse Of Society As We Know It, BuzzFeed.

About Writing While Loving Blackness and Hurting White Feelings, Awesomely Luvvie.

Ask Polly: Why Did My Dream Man Dump Me?, New York Magazine.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Get in Formation, Seven Scribes.

Why Everyone on TV Has the Same Hair, Racked.

Chris Christie’s wordless screaming, Washington Post.

What it’s like to be that fat person sitting next to you on the plane., Future Travel.

Out Here, No One Can Hear You Scream, Highline.

The Reckoning, Texas Monthly. This story is…remarkable, truly. I wept a lot

The Vast Bay Leaf Conspiracy, The Awl.

The rise of American authoritarianism, Vox.

On Race, Good Intentions, and the Benefit of the Doubt, The Toast.

The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans, The Atlantic.

How Blac Chyna Beat The Kardashians At Their Own Game, BuzzFeed. This…made me interested in the Kardashians for the first time ever.

Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Was Never Going to Be Easy. But Did It Have to Get This Hard?, New York Magazine.

A Renegade Muscles In on Mister Softee’s Turf, The New York Times.

How to Cover Donald Trump Fairly: A Style Guide, The Washington Post.

Princess for a Day, Disney Bride for Life, Racked.

Hunger Makes Me, Hazlitt.

The Audition, The Stranger.

Our Fancy Foods, Ourselves, Eater.

Am I Going to Write About Murdered Black People Forever?, Jezebel.

I’m proud to announce that I was the one who bought George Zimmerman’s gun. And once I destroy it there will be only four Trump horcruxes left., McSweeney’s.

Why Do So Many Men Whisper ‘Hey’ After Fucking You?, Jezebel.

The Rabidly-Followed Leggings Brand You Can Only Buy on Facebook, Racked.

Today’s Vagenda, Sara Schaefer on Medium.

When Will New York City Sink?, New York Magazine.

Marie Kondo and the Ruthless War on Stuff, The New York Times Magazine.

My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard: A Mother Jones Investigation, Mother Jones.

Ask a Former Drunk: How Do You Start Sobriety?, Jezebel.

When My Grandkids Ask Me What I Did to Fight American Fascism, I’ll Proudly Tell Them I Tweeted a Few Times., McSweeney’s.

The Uber Killer: The Real Story of One Night of Terror, GQ.

‘The Arrangements’: A Work of Fiction, The New York Times.

A Celebration of the Beautiful, Lightly Deranged PR Emails We Get From Period Undie-Makers Thinx, Jezebel. Update: Chelsea has left Thinx! She sent a good-bye email to all her ~squirrelfranz~ (myself included) a couple weeks ago. 

Why Am I So Fat?, Sara Benincasa on Medium.

This election isn’t just Democrat vs. Republican. It’s normal vs. abnormal., Vox.

The 24-Year-Old Coca-Cola Virgin, Eater.

No, I’m from New York, The New Yorker. 

He Had His Reasons, Granta. (Note: graphic descriptions of domestic violence.)

Ask Polly: Why Do Women Obsess About Babies and Fertility?, New York Magazine.

Baltimore vs. Marilyn Mosby, The New York Times Magazine. This is just…grim.

How to Be a Writer: 10 Tips from Rebecca Solnit, Literary Hub. I should set an iPhone reminder to read this every Sunday.

Hillary Clinton for President, The New York Times.

A Closer Look at Debate Makeup, Racked.

“You Girls Having Fun?”, Eater.

Ted Cruz and his conscience amicably part ways, The Washington Post.

This is Not My Beautiful House, Kim France on Medium.

Donald Trump, Shamer in Chief, The Nation.

I Was Pregnant, And Then I Wasn’t, BuzzFeed.

Children Don’t Always Live, The New York Times.

A Time for Refusal, The New York Times. 

How Trump Made Hate Intersectional, New York Magazine.

White nationalists? Alt-right? If you see a Nazi, say Nazi, The Guardian. 

On Rural America: Understanding Isn’t The Problem, Forsetti’s Justice.

That Time I Almost Stabbed A Couple Rednecks Who Saw My Headwrap And Assumed I Was Muslim, VerySmartBrothas.

Now Is the Time to Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About, The New Yorker.

Happy reading!

The best things I wrote in 2016

December 22, 2016

It’s been a trash year, but amidst all that, I did manage to do some work that I’m proud of! So if you don’t mind me getting meta (and bragging) for a moment, here are my favorite things I published in 2016…

WTF Is A Bullet Journal And Why Should You Start One? An Explainer + Here’s How To Use A Bullet Journal For Better Mental Health. The first post was actually pretty challenging to write and to figure out photos/art for; bullet journaling is so simple to do but surprisingly hard to explain. But it performed better than I expected, and people still link to it as a “start here” post, which I take as a huge compliment. I also know that it put bullet journaling on a lot of people’s radars — both average people and media outlets — and inspired a good number of people to start bullet journaling. The mental health post also took a while (though this time I wisely made the decision to have one of our photographers shoot the photos), and because it was basically aiming to reach a niche of a niche audience, I didn’t expect it to do that well, but thought it was worth doing anyway. But! It now has more than 750K views, which is wild, considering the narrow focus. Plus, the feedback we got on it was so wonderful!

Wedding Etiquette Rules Every Grown-Ass Adult Should Know. This post was Terri’s idea, and so much credit is due to her — she really did the heavy lift here — but I am proud of the things I contributed and did to shape it, and I love the final product a lot. (I’m also just so proud of her, my first — and, until this week, only! — direct report, and my shining star.)

In Defense Of Cottage Cheese. This was just really fun, and I was able to turn it around pretty quickly, which felt good, as I am a bit out of shape in that regard. (Me every time I try to write something quickly these days: *hands on knees, breathing heavily* I used to be a blogger back in my day…till I got that injury senior year…)

For Everyone Who’s Ever Loved Someone Who Loves Sports. I will never not be proud of having written a rhyming poem. I had actually been trying forever to write something kind of ranty about how I feel about men and sports and nothing was really working…and then one day I had the sort of weird thought that maybe if I started writing it as a poem it would help me push through the writers block. (I…do not know why I had that thought??) Anyway, it worked! Working on this was also when I realized that I could write fiction — like, that there is a specific type of writing where you have permission to make things up, which had simply never occurred to me. This was…actually sort of an important realization!

My Food Diary, Re-Written by a Celebrity Features Writer. This idea has been in my head for years, and I finally sat down and wrote it! It was also on The Hairpin, which is neat!

I Tried The Hipster Toothbrush That’s All Over Facebook And TBH I Loved It. This post was definitely experiment for me — I wanted to see if I could combine a product review with more of a dive into the company’s background and make it interesting and fun and servicey. It was hard for me to fully envision the flow and format at first, but I am really happy with how it turned out.

Make America Rape Again. Originally published on Facebook, this was one of those where, like, the spirit took over and I sat down and started writing feverishly and didn’t move until it was done.

Re: why I don’t carry a knife for self-defense. My emails are where I do some of my best work, TBQFH. This one makes me chuckle every time I think about it.

How My Glasses Showed Me That I’m My Father’s Daughter. I wrote about how this post came to be here. I hope you all enjoy this one because I open up about really personal things on the internet, like, oh…once every seven years or so!!!

And, finally, this Tweet.

Also, much love and thanks to Jess Probus and Rachel Sanders, who edited me this year!

Next up: the best things other people wrote in 2016!

Your post-election reading list

November 13, 2016

Art by Penelope Dullaghan for A Cup of Jo

This week was my first experience with mass, shared grief. And, as tragedies are wont to do, it all just happened so fast.

On Monday night, I wrote in my journal: Today felt like the last day of “Before.” God help us tomorrow. But Tuesday morning was bright and brisk, a perfect fall day. It felt like a happy, fancy, special occasion. By 8:15 a.m., I had voted and also cried three times. I took a bunch of “I voted” selfies that I never got around to posting. I knew it was going to be a long day, so I just tried to stay focused at work — put my head down, stay off Facebook, try not to worry, etc. That night, I watched the results come in at the BuzzFeed office. They produced the live show on the 13th floor, but I was on 12 with a group of about 20 people.

Just before 9 p.m., we heard a coworker become upset. It took a second for it to become clear what had happened, but then we learned that she had just seen Hillary’s “Whatever happens tonight, thank you for everything” tweet, and she felt like that meant she was giving up. Even though it was still early, a sense of dread rolled through the room like a wave and it never really left. A couple minutes later, Dallas texted me that she was worried. She hadn’t seen that tweet, but she was worried. And then, within a few minutes, I got texts from four other people. Every single one either said “I’m scared” or “I feel sick.” We weren’t all watching the same channel. No new states had been called. But within a five minute period, this shift happened and that was it.

Wednesday was awful for me, as I’m sure it was for most of you. One of the first things I saw when I woke up, after I saw that Trump had officially won, was the breakdown of the exit polls. And I just felt so betrayed. Getting out the door took so much effort. It was a cloudy day, but it also just seemed…dark. Like I wasn’t seeing the world in actual color. When I walked into the office, I saw my coworker Augusta first, and she hugged me for like five minutes and we just sobbed. We all cried pretty much all day. BuzzFeed had puppies brought in for us to play with, which was the nicest and BuzzFeediest thing they could have done.

And now it’s Sunday and the world is so different and I mostly feel numb and I don’t know what to say except I’m sorry and I hope you are all doing OK and starting to take steps to protect yourselves and those you love, and here are a lot of things for you to read.

Everyone should read…

Shattered, New York Magazine.

A Time for Refusal, The New York Times. “Evil settles into everyday life when people are unable or unwilling to recognize it. It makes its home among us when we are keen to minimize it or describe it as something else.”

An American Tragedy, The New Yorker.

This thread on taking care of yourself.

If you want to cry…

Mourning Trump and the America We Could Have Been, The New Yorker. “As psychologists note, after a death we mourn not only the deceased but also the version of ourselves we got to be with that person. What makes Clinton’s defeat unique, I think, is that we’re grieving for the nation we could have been, a nation some of us feel we are: a nation that elected a female President and rejected the rhetoric of nativism and fear that Donald Trump so casually embraced.”

Hillary Clinton’s Grace Is Yours, Jezebel.

Her Loss, The New York Times. “We, as a culture, do not take women seriously on a profound level. We do not believe women. We do not trust women. We do not like women. I understand that many men cannot see it, and plenty more do not care. I know that many men will read this and laugh, or become defensive, or call me hysterical, or worse, and that’s fine. I am used to it. It doesn’t make me wrong.”

The Day After The Election, I Told My Daughter The Truth, BuzzFeed.

The Pride and Privilege of Symbolic Voting, Jezebel.

My Plan For Making Peace With President-Elect Trump, GQ.

‘What Do I Say?’: Stories From the Classroom After Election Day, Jezebel.

And SNL‘s cold open.

If you want to laugh (and then probably cry)…

Every Way Jezebel Described Donald Trump During the Presidential Election, Jezebel.

19 Totally Real Conversations Obama And Biden Have Had Since The Election, BuzzFeed. “Joe.”

This fantastic Tumblr post, followed immediately by Donald Trump Doesn’t Like This Any More Than You Do on Deadspin.

15 People Who Just Need To Get Over Losing Already, BuzzFeed.

This guy calling out his sexist father on Facebook. Seth Meyers on Wednesday morning. This hed. This tweet and this one. And this absolutely perfect mashup.

If you want smart people saying smart things…

I’m a Coastal Elite From the Midwest: The Real Bubble is Rural America, Roll Call. “We, as a culture, have to stop infantilizing and deifying rural and white working-class Americans. Their experience is not more of a real American experience than anyone else’s, but when we say that it is, we give people a pass from seeing and understanding more of their country.”

How Trump Made Hate Intersectional, NY Mag.

White Won, Slate.

Heather Havrilesky on the way Midwesterners talk (or don’t talk) about race and culture. This thread is spot on.

Blaming political correctness for Trump is like blaming the civil rights movement for Jim Crow, The Guardian. “This week, I had to listen to supposedly reasonable, leftist men – not trolls this time – insist that Trump’s victory was at least partially a result of ‘divisiveness’ and ‘incivility’ and ‘political correctness gone too far’. This is the consequence of ‘confrontational movements’, one man told me on Twitter. There’s always a backlash. ‘Learn from this,’ he admonished. As though any social-justice movement in history got anywhere by asking politely and taking a seat. As though there was some magical moment in the semi-recent past when we’d reached a perfect stasis – no racism, no sexism and white dudes could still have a chill time – but those greedy feminists just had to keep pushing.” Thank you, Lindy West.

Facebook, I’m Begging You, Please Make Yourself Better, The Intercept.

There is no “person at the top” to fix everything.

Please Stop Saying Poor People Did This, Jezebel.

Siyanda Mohutsiwa’s thread on how white men are radicalized online.

6 Books to Help Understand Trump’s Win, The New York Times. (I bought The Unwinding and am starting it tonight — click the link in the NYT article to read a full review of it.)

How Trump Conned America, Slate.

Is This the Second Redemption?, The Atlantic.

I Will Never Underestimate White People’s Need To Preserve Whiteness Again, Very Smart Brothas.

America Elects a Bigot, The New York Times.

Emily Ellsworth on having your voice heard.

You have to watch Van Jones’ powerful message about the 2016 ‘whitelash’, Fusion. “We don’t want to feel that someone has been elected by throwing away some of us to appeal more deeply to others.”

President Trump’s First Term, The New Yorker. I read this a couple months ago…time for a re-read.

I’m Tired of Good White People, GQ.

The smug style in American liberalism, Vox. This is long and there is a LOT I disagree with (including the entire GWB section), but it has some good points and food for thought.

An Open Letter To Supposedly Pro-Choice, Pro-Same Sex Marriage, Non-Racist Trump Supporters, Wonkette.

27 Productive Things You Can Do If You’re Upset About The Election, BuzzFeed.

This thread on racism, this thread on “healing the divide,” this thread on the bullshit of the “real America” narrative, this reminder that “common ground” is a trap, this accurate summation of the Trump/Obama meeting, a reminder that it’s about men too, and #5 in this old post from Michael Moore, which perfectly sums up the politics so many straight white men I know.

Harry Reid’s statement. “We as a nation must find a way to move forward without consigning those who Trump has threatened to the shadows. Their fear is entirely rational, because Donald Trump has talked openly about doing terrible things to them. Every news piece that breathlessly obsesses over inauguration preparations compounds their fear by normalizing a man who has threatened to tear families apart, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and who has directed crowds of thousands to intimidate reporters and assault African Americans. Their fear is legitimate and we must refuse to let it fall through the cracks between the fluff pieces.”

Why We Ignore the Obvious: The Psychology of Willful Blindness, Brain Pickings.

If you’re white…

What Whiteness Means in the Trump Era, The New York Times. “Conveniently, for most white Americans, being white has meant not having a racial identity. It means being and living and experiencing the world as an individual and not having to think about your race. It has meant being free of race. Some people are proud white nationalists, but probably not many of the millions who voted for Donald Trump. Thinking in terms of community would seem to be the job of black people. The Trump campaign has disrupted that easy freedom.”

Once Again, Black Women Did The Work White Women Refused To, Very Smart Brothas.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: What it means to be black during a Trump administration, The Washington Post. “Let the other groups denigrated and threatened by Trump speak for themselves. The women, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, the LGBT community and others who now must walk through the streets of their country for the next four years in shame and fear, knowing that their value as human beings has been diminished by their neighbors. I only speak for myself as an African American and I speak with the rage of betrayal.”

Stop Telling Me to Fight, Sojourners. “All of you who are going home for Thanksgiving need to make this year’s dinner a NAAWP (National Association for the Advancement of White People) meeting and decide that the ‘advancement’ portion of your organization’s name is finally going to mean that you are taking it upon yourselves to advance your beliefs and morals and, above all, your maturity. Because what we have in front of us — a Trump presidency — is ridiculous. It is so flat-out ridiculous and yet so real, and here’s an even bigger yet for you: You should have seen it coming.”

Hey White People: You Need To Start Doing The Ugly Work That Isn’t Safe For Us To, Feministing.

The Cinemax Theory of Racism, Whatever, Scalzi.

This reminder (from me) that if you’re white, and you’re silent, we really don’t actually know where you stand.

If you want a tiny bit of politics-free joy…

This tweet, this one, and this little baby fox.

If you’re pretty sure that this is how it all ends (and/or you want others to understand why you think that)…

Autocracy: Rules for Survival, The New York Review of Books. This takes a little while to get going, but keep reading.

Climate change may be escalating so fast it could be ‘game over’, scientists warn, Independent.

What to Expect Under a Trump Administration – Part One and Part Two, Leah McElrath.

Racist Messages Sent To Black UPenn Students Linked To Oklahoma Student, BuzzFeed.

A Running List Of Reported Racist Incidents After Donald Trump’s Victory, BuzzFeed.

One woman’s experience with the alt-right.

The forces that drove this election’s media failure are likely to get worse, Nieman Lab.

With Trump, Coal Wins, Planet Loses, The New Yorker.

Is this the end of the West as we know it?, The Washington Post.

The Mike Pence (Donald Trump) Assault On LGBTQ Equality Is Already Underway, The Huffington Post.

I’m a disabled American. Trump’s policies will be a disaster for people like me., Vox.

Trump’s conflicts of interest are without precedent in American presidential history, The Washington Post.

Trump’s Revenge, BuzzFeed.

Some extremely chill Breitbart heds, a GOP strategist reminding us to “stay vigilant,” actor Kumail Nanjiani being harassed in a bar, this fact, this reminder and this one what it’s like to be Jewish online right now, and a crash course in white nationalist symbols.

Oh, and this excerpt from The Handmaid’s Tale.

Let the record reflect: Charleston

June 21, 2015

I. Say Their Names

Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton

Reverend Clementa Pinckney

Susie Jackson

Cynthia Hurd

Tywanza Sanders

Rev. Daniel L. Simmons

Myra Thompson

Ethel Lee Lance

Read their stories. Say their names.

II. Again

What happened in Charleston is so tragic, so heartbreaking, so…American. And so is the reaction to it.

When Elliot Rodger murdered six people and injured 14 others last year, I wrote:

Every time someone goes on a shooting spree, we ask why. And then this guy did us a favor and told us why! And the thing about the manifesto is that it is so. Damn. Articulate. Even though you might think someone so concerned with being an alpha male would attempt to come across as one in what is essentially his memoir, it actually reads as remarkably honest. He talks about his pain, his humiliation, and how he’d go home and cry out of frustration after seeing couples out together in public. He seems to own the fact that he wasn’t what he so desperately wanted to be (powerful) because he’s writing with the guns in his possession and his “Day of Retribution” planned. He’s comfortable talking about his own weaknesses, and his motivation is unbelievably clear. It’s also exactly what you’d think his motivation would be if you’ve ever witnessed a misogynist in action, or spent any time on an anti-PUA forum (something I do not recommend if you want to be able to get out of bed ever). So we don’t need to ask why because he told us why.

And yet. Even with the manifesto in front of us, there are still choruses of “This wasn’t about women!” and “But mental illness!” and “Neither guns nor misogyny kill people; people kill people!” and “Not all men are like that!” and “We’ll never really know why he did it” and “But…but…maybe he was gay?” YOU GUYS. DID YOU DO THE READING?

And so here we are again, watching people have the “Gee, I wonder what his motive is” conversation. Even though the alleged shooter targeted a historic black church, one that is a symbol of both resistance and sanctuary. Even though a witness said he straight-up said, “You’re raping our women and taking over our country.” Even though he’s been photographed wearing racist symbols, driving a car bearing racist symbols. Even though, like Rodger, he spelled it all out for us his manifesto. Even though. Even though. Even though.

III. Fear

A few weeks ago, my coworkers and I were on the subway, heading to drinks for one’s birthday. When we got on the train, we made that classic mistake of getting in the mostly-empty car. A few moments later, we heard a guy talking very loudly; at first we thought he was lecturing another rider, but then it became clear he was talking to himself. He was a white guy, appeared to be in his 50s or so, and looked a little shabby but still like he had a bed to sleep in at night. And he was racist.

If a single subway car is mostly-empty, there’s a reason for it.

At first we exchanged glances in that Ugh, NYC, oh no what have we done? way. But as our car rattled along the track, I moved further away from him. I wasn’t the only brown girl in our group, but I was the only black girl, and I didn’t want him to notice me. As we rolled up to the next stop, I said to the group — too lightly, too softly — “Shall we change cars?” No one heard me. As the train progressed to the next stop, he got louder. “Let’s change cars,” I said firmly and loudly as the train began to slow this time. When it comes to angry men ranting about their hatred for women and/or black people, I’m done waiting for someone else to make the first move, done talking myself out of being afraid. The truth is, I am afraid.

IV. Terrorism

Reading last night that the director of the FBI said he doesn’t think this act fits the definition of terrorism left me sputtering with rage.

“Speaking in Baltimore, Comey said his agency is investigating the murders as hate crimes, but that he does not believe they meet the legal criteria for terrorist acts.

‘Terrorism is act of violence done or threatened to in order to try to influence a public body or citizenry, so it’s more of a political act,’ he said.

‘Based on what I know so far I don’t see it as a political act. That doesn’t make it any less horrific… but terrorism has a definition under federal law,’ he said.

The official FBI definition of terrorism defines it as ‘the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.'”

Mr. Comey: Did you do the reading?

V. The manifesto

It’s disgusting, but it’s not shocking. Just your basic, run-of-the-mill racist stuff. Which is why I was afraid of the man on the train — because you just don’t know which ones are going to escalate.

VI. Community

VII. Further Reading

Our Racist History Isn’t Back to Haunt Us. It Never Left Us., The New Republic.

Charleston Shooting: Speaking the Unspeakable, Thinking the Unthinkable, Esquire.

No Quarter, No Sanctuary, No Succor, The New Republic.

The Deadly History of “They’re Raping Our Women”, Slate.

The Charleston shooter killed mostly black women. This wasn’t about ‘rape’, The Guardian.

Murders In Charleston, The New Yorker.

Shooters of color are called ‘terrorists’ and ‘thugs.’ Why are white shooters called ‘mentally ill’? The Washington Post.

Jon Stewart on his “profound sadness”

Why calling the Charleston shooting terrorism is important to so many people, Vox.

Hundreds Rally To Remove Confederate Flag From South Carolina Capitol Grounds, BuzzFeed.

Take Down the Confederate Flag—Now, The Atlantic.

On feminism & Christmas

December 9, 2014

I unapologetically love Christmas. I love the baking, the music, the gifts and the wrapping, the lights and decor, the cold weather, and the magic of it. A few days after Christmas in 2013, I started reading the book MERRY CHRISTMAS! Celebrating America’s Favorite Holiday by Karal Ann Marling, and (after a looooong break from it) I finished it a couple of weeks ago.

The book is about the history of the material aspects of Christmas: when and why we started wrapping gifts and sending Christmas cards, why Santa looks like he does, why people love miniature Christmas villages, etc. That alone makes it interesting to me…but Marling also lays out a really great case for why exploring this topic is downright feminist. Here’s an excerpt that sums it up nicely (emphasis added)…

“[This book is] about images and the feelings they arouse—the shining ribbons of hope and memory that connect people to themselves, their families, and their sense of nationhood through the ornament chest in the attic, a collection of Christmas village houses, or a green-frosted cookie shaped like Dr. Seuss’s Grinch. And it’s about grandmothers and mothers. Several years ago, when I had just finished a book on the visual culture of the 1950s—a book that looked at the clothes, hairstyles, body language, and the preferred colors for household appliances—one reviewer allowed as how he didn’t think much of the project, but that his mom would probably like it. Well, this is another one for the moms! Although I have looked at a great deal of textual evidence, the material culture of Christmas (or what moms generally do while the rest of us watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’) is the heart and soul of this book and of the holiday it examines.

As a writer who prides herself on having no particular ideological axes to grind, I was startled to discover how few students of the phenomenon have openly acknowledged the creative role of women in inventing, sustaining, and ultimately changing Christmas. Studying Christmas would turn anyone into a card-carrying feminist! Popular culture—the movies, TV—is heavily invested in denying that women and Christmas have any special relationship at all. Jimmy Stewart and the Grinch are the Christmas heroes; Mrs. Santa is relegated to the photo booth in the department store Toyland. When the manipulation of ‘stuff’ takes precedence over the use of words and documents, when traditional women’s skills at shopping or cooking or home decorating take center stage, then the whole subject falls off the radar screen of ‘important’ scholarship. Christmas is OK in its way—the stuff of memoirs, but not of serious research. At best, it is politically incorrect, a pleasant diversion for the few remaining stay-at-home moms. At worst, it is mere trivia.

But Christmas is not just a moms’ festival. It is a domestic one. Christmas reminds everybody of home truths, of the particular sense of comfort and joy that Christmas cards represent with their pictures of ornaments and presents and snug little houses nestled in the snow, a curl of smoke arising from the chimney. It is the one occasion in the fitful progress of the year that calls upon us to consider domesticity and continuity seriously, to ponder the good in the goods arrayed beneath the Christmas tree. If home is less important than the workplace, then Christmas isn’t very interesting. If the items in the glossy holiday catalogs are viewed as so many examples of consumerism run amok, then Christmas is a pig’s feast of capitalist greed. To look seriously at Christmas is to embrace the possibility that quotidian realities, like pleasure and purchase, might be defensible aspects of the human condition.

Sociologists are just about unanimous in concluding that women do most of the grunt work involved in standard Christmas practices: they buy and wrap the presents, trim the tree, plan the gatherings, cook the food. Theodore Caplow, in his groundbreaking studies of Christmas gift exchange and other holiday observances in ‘Middletown,’ U.S.A., documents women’s hegemony as makers and shapers of celebratory rituals. In industrial societies, it is women who define and maintain the sorts of relationships within the family and between the family and the culture that Christmas effectively diagrams with presents and strings of lights. Who are our friends? Our social superiors? What are our obligations to the community? Yet, because Christmas is a family holiday the actual work of mothers and aunts and grandmothers is rarely differentiated from the lesser roles of others. Nor are acts performed for love and not for money commonly recognized as ‘work.’

…Mothers shop for toys and wrap the gifts—and Santa gets all the credit. The Grinch didn’t steal Christmas. Men did, beginning with Clement Moore’s Santa Claus! If the sociologists are right, the patriarchy always seizes positions of power and economic importance for itself. If men make the money and the suet for the pudding, then they, by rights, should be Santa Clauses…despite changes in American families, and in living-room observances of the holiday, the public face of Christmas still wears a big white beard.

Women were the primary custodians of tradition, firmly in charge of the American heritage in its tangible, material manifestations. Sarah Hale made the case for observing Thanksgiving and showed America how to trim a tree. Women saved the homes of the Founding Fathers for national shrines, beginning with Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of George Washington, and so created the historic preservation movement. The mainstays of local historical societies, women saved grandma’s wedding dress alongside deeds and wills and documents…they packed away the family pictures, the report cards, the letters—and the Christmas ornaments. They remembered where they mistletoe was always hung, the family recipe for Christmas pudding, the words to all the carols, and what the little ones wanted Santa to bring them. The question is not whether Christmas has been women’s work, but why the modern media have taken such pains to deny the fact. Is it because we imagine women to have kept to their kitchens in the ‘good old days’? Or that we find no value in the work that transpires within the home? Or is it because Christmas is simply too important to have been wrestled from masculine hands?”

I LOVE this. While a lot of advertising seems to pander to moms at Christmas (we see lots of beleaguered moms doing All The Things at the holidays and lots of articles directed toward women about avoiding stress at the holidays) it doesn’t seem to do it in a way that really gives credit, or designates this work as important or significant. It’s more just…an expectation. But “women’s history” is history, and the way people celebrate is a worthwhile way to learn more about a culture.

(Christmas card images from ebay via BuzzFeed)

The week in review

November 23, 2014

Winter boots

This week, I learned that anxiety looks like spending five hours trying to find the perfect winter boots online, which is what I did last Sunday. Apparently I’ve forgotten how to cold weather? Or (more likely) I just didn’t want to deal with packing. I ended up going with a pair from Sorel after basically everyone on Facebook and Twitter recommended the brand. I feel like I’m wearing actual snow tires on my feet and am not sure if this is going to realllllly be necessary in New York. (I don’t remember the 2008-2009 winter being that snowy.) But whatever; it’s done.

After that anxiety-fueled shopping experience, I cut myself off after about 60 minutes of shopping online for a winter coat and just went with one from Land’s End. It was on sale. It looks warm. It’s not a life or death decision. It’s going to be fine.

Other highlights from this week…

Eating

I re-discovered avocado toast a couple weeks ago and it’s been giving me life. (I usually put a fried egg on one slice.) The toast plus Panera Bread’s new hazelnut coffee pods for the Keurig mean I am very happy with my breakfast situation.

Avocado toast

Also, these are the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made.

Reading

Like everyone else, I’ve become completely obsessed with Serial. Like, I check Reddit at least once a day for the craziest new theory. This also led me to two fantastic/outrageous older articles that everyone should read: The Innocent Man in TexasMonthly and Trial by Fire in the New Yorker. Interestingly enough, both cases have been in the news again recently; the first because the prosecutor in the case will actually serve jail time for his wrongdoing, the second because it could be the first case in U.S. history where we know an innocent man was executed. (Also of particular interest to me: the trial in the first story was in the courthouse where Eric and I got married.)

More good reads from this week…

A Modern Guide to Thanksgiving Etiquette, Bon Appetit. This has seriously great tips/advice. (It’s for guests and hosts!)

So You’ve Finally Started Wearing The Right Bra Size, The Toast. SO funny.

Two well-written posts on Bill Cosby: Art or Humanity: Thoughts on Bill Cosby by Roxanne Gay and The Cosby Show by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Abortion Clinic Protesters: “Sidewalk Counselors” or “Sidewalk Terrorists”? on Cosmopolitan. I damn near had a rage stroke reading this article.

A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA by Sabrina Rubin Erdely for Rolling Stone. A horrible subject, but great reporting and a worthwhile read.

Why Were Three Teenage Rape Victims Bullied Out of School in Oklahoma?, Jezebel. Warning: you may actually throw your phone/computer across the room while reading.

What It’s Like to Date a Horse, NY Mag. OK, I apologize in advance for this article. I was literally shouting about it as I was reading. Know that it gets worse before it gets better. I’m sharing it for the same reason people say, “EW this smells awful. Here, smell it.” I sent it to my friend Dallas after I read it last night and she had several similar reactions, which culminated in “a pox on your house.” And…I deserve that.

Buying

ALL THE THINGS, it feels like. We sat on what felt like a million couches (because our 3-year-old couch is a piece of shit and is falling apart) but we’re not pulling the trigger on one until we’re in New York. But after sitting on an unexpectedly amazing teal velvet sofa at Dillard’s last weekend, I sort of began a love affair with jewel-toned furniture. (The things you zero on in when you’re freaking out about big life changes…) We picked out a new headboard for the apartment from Joss & Main; it’s blue velvet and very sexy and I’m pretty pumped about it.

ASOS has a pretty strong holiday sweater game; I bought this one. (It runs a little small! I normally wear a small in tops; I got the 4 and it’s totally fine, but it’s just a bit more fitted than I normally wear sweaters.) I also got two plaid scarves, bringing my plaid scarf total for the week to three. (I’m…not keeping all of them.)

I’m not the only one in need of some additional cold-weather attire; I made Chuck’s hipster dog dreams come true yesterday with an American Apparel dog hoodie.

One thing I did not buy? An AMAZING mega-oversized Christmas ornament from Home Goods. It was completely impractical on every level.

Writing

19 Things That Are The Literal Worst

This Sweater Is Big Enough For You And Everyone You Know

21 Foolproof Ways To Bring Cheer To Your Warm-Weather Christmas

The week ahead…

Phase 1 of the move to New York is this week! I’ll be spending the rest of my day today running errands packing, which I’m not looking forward to at all.

Also, Thanksgiving! Eric and I will be in New York with basically no furniture and no lives, so I’m leaning toward doing this

“The coffee that tastes like a candle”

October 13, 2014

I have been loving “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” lately, and his new segment on pumpkin spice lattes is no exception.

(I actually would love to drink a cable knit sweater spice latte.)

In other timely-segments-from-John-Oliver-news, How is Columbus Day still a thing?

VQR: The Price of Black Ambition

October 7, 2014

“I am thinking about success, ambition, and blackness and how breaking through while black is tempered by so much burden. Nothing exemplifies black success and ambition like Black History Month, a celebratory month I’ve come to dread as a time when people take an uncanny interest in sharing black-history facts with me to show how they are not racist. It’s the month where we segregate some of history’s most significant contributors into black history instead of fully integrating them into American history. Each February, we hold up civil-rights heroes and the black innovators and writers and artists who have made so much possible for this generation. We say, look at what the best of us have achieved. We conjure W. E. B. Du Bois, who once wrote, ‘The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men.’ We ask much of our exceptional men and women. We must be exceptional if we are to be anything at all.”

— Roxanne Gay in The Price of Black Ambition for VQR. This essay is on point and deeply moving; I was in tears. But then I pulled it together and did something I’ve been meaning to do since August: went to Amazon and bought Gay’s book Bad Feminist because I need more of her in my life.

Gone Girl (the movie)

October 6, 2014

After finishing Gone Girl last week, I decided I wanted to see the movie, so Eric and I went to see it on Friday night!

Thoughts and spoilers ahead…

gone girl

  • Overall, I liked the movie, but I felt it lacked the high-stakes thriller vibe of the book. The beginning of the book filled me with dread. During the movie, well…I’ve felt more intrigued watching episodes of “Dateline.”
  • My reaction to the book was that the first half of it was great, and the second went downhill. I felt the opposite about the movie; the first half was meh, but the second half was a lot better.
  • This is one of the most true-to-the-book movies I’ve ever seen. Since I had just finished it, a lot of the dialogue was fresh in my mind and I was super aware when it was coming directly from the book. Presumably it’s because Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay herself; I liked that about it. 
  • More men going down on women in movies, plz!
  • I’ve read a lot of criticism about the way Nick’s and Amy’s stories were told in the movie. Amy’s is told with her voiceover so it’s always clear that it’s just her perspective. But Nick’s is told from the omnipresent POV, making him seem far more reliable, and also like less of a raging asshole. This is actually my main complaint about the movie: Nick was not made to look like the raging asshole that he is…which in turn makes Amy look like a “psycho bitch.” Which she is…but I felt like the best thing about the book was how it dug deeper into the stereotypes of the lazy, cheating husband and the shrill nagging bitch wife. This telling felt a lot less complex, and made it seem like Nick was not a saint, but a mostly decent guy who got wronged by his crazy bitch wife. And maybe that’s the reality, but it felt like the question surrounding that—of who was really right in this situation—was one of the most defining aspects of the book. In the movie, it felt like the question had already been answered for us.
  • I didn’t like Go in the book but I liked her a lot in the movie.
  • Tyler Perry, likable? Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either. And Missi Pyle’s Ellen Abbott was great.
  • Thanks for the side peen, Ben Affleck! (Eric thinks it was a body double; I don’t because it was such a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, what would be the point?)
  • When I read the book, I didn’t really buy the Desi murder plot. But hot damn, I bought it when I saw the movie. It was so gruesome, but I thought it was the best scene in the movie; it was so perfectly choreographed and the music was on point.
  • I’m pretty sure the girls sitting next to me in the (packed) theater were drunk; they kept giggling throughout the movie and it was just so annoying.
  • Remember when I said the plot twist reminded of me Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None? Well, Refinery29 posted an article this weekend suggesting that Agatha Christie was the original “Gone Girl,” a theory I will now treat as fact.

Bottom line: the movie was pretty good, as far as book adaptations go, but I think it missed the vibe of the book in some critical ways. I’m really glad I read the book before seeing it.

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