This week was a big week on the internet for Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West, but other things also happened. Highlights: Uma Thurman articulated her anger, Rose McGowan does not understand intersectional identities, Justin Timberlake tried to pull off a flannel, Paris Hilton dressed up as Kim K., self-care can be an act of giving, the definition of brain-dead is changing, parents are stealing their children’s identity, and it’s Black History Month.
1. The New York Times: This Is Why Uma Thurman Is Angry
In October of 2017, when Thurman was asked about her thoughts on sexual misconduct in the workplace by Access Hollywood, she responded, “It is commendable. I don’t have a tidy sound bite for you…I have learned that when I have spoken in anger I usually regret the way I express myself. I have been waiting to feel less angry. And when I am ready I will say what I have to say.” Until this week, Thurman had been relatively quiet, except for an Instagram post referencing Kill Bill, a film that Harvey Weinstein produced. This week Thurman spoke her truth.
2. Cosmopolitan: Rose McGowan Confronted by Trans Woman Over Controversial Remarks
Rose McGowan, one of the first women to speak out against Harvey Weinstein, is canceling all public appearances after she got in an argument at a stop on her book tour. As reported in this article, the argument was with Trans activist Andi Dier about a comment McGowan had made in response to RuPaul’s “What’s the Tea” podcast. Dier told McGowan that “trans women are dying, and you said that we, as trans women, are not like regular women. We get raped more often. We go through domestic violence more often.” McGowan countered, “We are the same. My point was, we are the same.” Yes, Trans women are women, but that does not mean that they don’t face challenges and discrimination cis women do not. McGowan went on to make other offensive comments.
While McGowan has been incredibly brave when it comes to speaking up against sexual assault, she has a history of being a white feminist. In October 2017 she tweeted “This is white male privilege in action! Replace the word ‘women’ with the N-word! How does it feel?” The tweet has since been deleted. A lot of people, including me, have been very skeptical of her ever since.
3. Very Smart Brothas: Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods Album Probably Should Have Been Called 808s and Banjos
Justin Timberlake released a suspect album of “folky” music where he is trying to sound like he wears a flannel. His wannabe black boy persona did not exactly pull it off (in spite of his name). Besides, “who the fuck decides they want to make a folksy album and calls up Timbaland, Danja and Pharrell?” Obviously Justin.
ALSO! Lest we not forget Nipplegate 2004 and how Justin ostensibly ruined Janet Jackson’s career. A fact that he still has not really owned up to…. I’m really curious about what is going to happen tonight.
4. The New York Times: Kanye West Finally Gets His Fashion Right
Kanye West released an EPIC marketing campaign for the new season of his fashion line, Yeezy Season 6. For weeks Kim has been posting images to her Instagram account in what many fans speculated were new clothes designed by her husband…and the fans were right! The new campaign consists of celebrities dressed as Kim-clones, including PARIS HILTON.
To me, one of the most interesting aspects of the campaign is that both white celebrities and celebrities of color are posing as Kim. This is an interesting move considering Kardashians’ contentious history with cultural appropriation.
5. Longreads: The Month of Giving Dangerously
If you spend enough time talking to millennial, or the liberal hipster type, the term self-care is bound to pop up. And it is important. The dialogue around self-care usually centers around people taking time for themselves, saying no, and being a bit selfish. But what happens when your self-care becomes about giving to other people? “You make yourself vulnerable by making an offering the other may or may not take… Giving becomes easier. Defensiveness can soften because you’re not fighting to preserve what little you feel you have to protect. From the constant gnaw of scarcity, you realize there is enough.”
6. Roads and Kingdoms: Radio Nowhere
Alwan, an Istanbul radio station that broadcasts news to Syria, is giving people information and hope in a place that is seemingly devoid of both. Sami, the deputy CEO and head of special projects, says Alwan as more than a radio station, it is “form of activism, and through our programs, we try to do our part by encouraging people to engage with civic organizations within Syria, and to inform them on what’s really happening both around the country and outside of it.”
7. The New Yorker: What Does It Mean to Die
A month after the surgery to remove her tonsils, the Alameda County coroner declared Jahi McMath brain dead. Jahi McMath, an black girl from Oakland, California, was 13. Her family rejected the medicolegal findings, and fought to keep her on life support. Jahi began to show intermittent signs of consciousness, and in 2015, Dr. Alan Shewmon, the former chief of the neurology department at Olive View-U.C.L.A. Medical Center, visited Jahi in her apartment. In a petition to the Alameda County Superior Court, he wrote, “With the passage of time, her brain has recovered the ability to generate electrical activity, in parallel with its recovery of ability to respond to commands.” He described her as “an extremely disabled but very much alive teenage girl.” Jahi’s medical case has challenged the bioethics community to rethink the traditional understanding of brain death, including how it might violate certain belief structures.
Truog, the director of the Center of Bioethics at Harvard, when he gave an academic talk on brain death, described it as a catastrophic brain injury, rather than death. “I don’t think there’s anything morally wrong with the fact that we take organs from these people, even though there is no scientific reason for believing them to be dead. I believe it is a morally virtuous thing to do and we ought to facilitate it. We are doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.”
Jahi’s case also illustrates how often, and how easily people of color get overlooked when seeking medical attention. The most recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy highlights this. From anecdotal evidence, I have heard lots of people of color and members of marginalized populations state that they are not organ donors because they believe it would impede their medical care.
8. BuzzFeed: Here’s What Happens When Your Mom Or Dad Steals Your Identity
Children are some of the biggest targets for identity theft. This seems crazy to me. Banks typically only use Social Security Numbers to verify identity and are not required to use multiple data points. For children this means that parents and family members can easily open lines of credit in the child’s name. A lot of children do not find out that their identity has been stolen until they are adults.
9. Hyperallergic: “I Was an Artist in Vitro”: Joyce J. Scott and Her Darkly Beautiful Art
I’m really glad the rest of the world is discovering Joyce Scott. I don’t think I can encapsulate how I feel about Joyce, and this show (which I still have not seen! sigh) better than the last time she was on one of my lists. Here is what I said in reference to Nancy Pricenthal’s NYT review:
Joyce J. Scott’s Harriet Tubman and Other Truths currently on view at Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey is the largest survey of her work to date. It explores themes familiar to her: race, sexuality, sexual violence, motherhood, and spirituality.
When asked by New York Times critic Nancy Pricenthal why she chooses to works on these themes, Joyce said “because it is the truth.” Anyone that has ever talked to Joyce knows that speaking her truth, cut with humor, is a unique gift. When reading the article, I remembered an afternoon I spent talking with her in her studio, crawling under tables to get bags of beads she need to make work for the show. Our casual conversation parroted Pricenthal’s article. It is Joyce’s ability to articulate herself so clearly, without being didactic, that makes her work so special, haunting and acute. At all moments of her life, Joyce is a truth teller.
10. The New Yorker: The Farce, and the Grandeur, of Black History Month Under Trump
“Now in its forty-second rotation, and its second under Trump, Black History Month in America has a more conspicuously folkloric tint,” writes Doreen St. Felix. The pedagogy of black history (if it is taught) is often “caught between ‘stereotype’ and ‘polemics,’” and teachers tend to duck, or miscommunicate entirely. Nearly 80% of American teachers are White. Perhaps what is more important than teaching teachers how to teach Black History Month, is teaching White people how to teach black students, or better yet just having more teachers of color.
*All images taken from reference articles*
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