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The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 6/14

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The internet was in a weird middle space between coronavirus and #BlackLivesMatter, while also maintaining some pre-quarantine vibes. There were many thoughtful and beautifully written articles on the current protests, systemic racism, and racial and generational trauma, but it was still hard to be online. 

Highlights: Why white people need to talk about whiteness, a long time woman, JK Rowling’s transphobia, white American theater, Bon Appétit’s implosion, Minneapolis was the breaking point, a “bastard cop’s” confessions, monuments that are no longer, and Trump resuming his campaign. 

1. Instagram: Sonya Renee Taylor

A lot of white people want to learn more and talk about Black people and Blackness and Black lives, but tend to avoid the conversation of whiteness. In response to a viral video of a teen named Haley arguing with her conservative parents over the death of George Floyd, Sonya Renee Taylor recorded this widely shared video where she outlines what goes wrong when white people have conversations on race. “Haley was having a conversation about Black people. Haley was arguing with her parents about whether or not Black people were worthy of life. The fact that that is a conversation is the problem… Whiteness and white people are so bereft of humanity that they will have a conversation about whether another group of people deserves to live.” White people need to start talking about whiteness and stop ignoring the fact that “Black people are not suffering at an amorphous blob called the system. Black people are suffering at the hands of whiteness and white people who live inside the delusions of white supremacy construct systems and structures to enact the delusions of white supremacy.”

 

2. The Paris Review: Performing Whiteness

Internalized and generational trauma, when it comes to race, is usually talked about as a thing that BIPOC embody. All of our “bodies are raised into a history so rife with violence that more than half of us won’t look at it, don’t really know it. This is history buried in our flesh, in our ancestry, in our shared nationhood,” writes Sarah Bellamy. Violence is embedded in white bodies too. When, after killing Ahmaud Arbery, Travis McMichaels “turned and walked back to his truck, to his father, a shotgun slung low in his hand. It was in his shoulders, his jaw, his waist, his hips. I saw it come over him and I saw him stand up in it and move with it and, though he didn’t say the words, they were all over him: Take that, nigger.” In writing this essay, Bellamy is attempting to be gracious and “will acknowledge that the bodies and psyches of these white people have been subjected to white supremacy as well—that they’ve been disciplined to show up this way, to believe that this is the ultimate expression of their power.” This generosity, however, “is not magnanimous. I want to do this because it may save Black lives.” There has been a lot of virtue signaling in the past few weeks, but “white folks, you must dig into your embodied racism, even—especially—if you think it’s not there. And this is not just to shift what you say and how you shape your arguments, questions, Facebook posts, tweets. It’s not about performing your wokeness. This isn’t about what you say—it’s about how you act; how your body might be predisposed to rely on a racial inheritance that endangers the lives of others.”

 

3. The Believer: Long Time Woman

I read this essay and was immediately attached to it. I skimmed it a couple more times, working my way through its frames of Pam Grier and Better Things as a way to understand the current protests and aging and invisibility. I kept trying to pinpoint exactly what I was drawn to, apart from the beautiful prose. I always went back to Niela Orr’s declaration that she “will not perform my grief on the page, even though I wish I could literalize it in tears, and even though the page has long been my savior. Instead of trying—and failing—to say how much all of this means to me, I will do what has helped my brain protect me. I’ll tell you about some things I watched on TV. In responding to the drama of my life, I go first to comedy.”

I’ve been watching and rewatching a lot of animated TV shows meant for children. When responding to the drama in my life I remind myself of the lessons and fables I learned as a child, questioning whether they still hold true. 

 

4. Literary Hub: How JK Rowling Betrayed the World She Created

Over the past few years JK Rowling has increasingly supported or made transphobic statements. Earlier in June, Rowling “mocked an article that referred to ‘people who menstruate’—a choice of wording meant to reflect the reality that not all cisgender women menstruate, while some transgender men do,” tweeting “[E]rasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives… If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased.” Rowling’s recent tweet and anti-trans rhetoric of the past is “patronizing, suggesting that trans people can wear whatever clothes we wish and use whatever language we like, but that in reality, we are living in a kind of silly delusion that people like Rowling merely politely tolerate,” writes Gabrielle Bellot. The internet is rightfully up in arms, and Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe released a statement in which he affirms that “Transgender women are women.” While it might seem like people are canceling Rowling, “it was Rowling’s transgender fans, like me, who had actually been ‘canceled,’ because the author we had looked up to for so long had shown, finally, that she was no fan of us.”

 

5. We See You, White American Theater

In the tradition of August Wilson’s The Ground on Which I Stand, a group of Black, Indigenous, and people of color who are leaders in American theater have come together to write a statement to white American theater addressing the many facets of racism they see in their industry. This list is specific to theater, but many of its points are transferable to all industries. BIPOC “have watched [white people] harm your BIPOC staff members, asking us to do your emotional labor by writing your Equity, Diversity and Inclusion statements. When we demanded you live up to your own creeds, you cowered behind old racist laments of feeling threatened, and then discarded us along with the values you claim to uphold.” 

 

6. Vox: The food world is imploding over structural racism. The problems are much bigger than Bon Appétit.

Every time I tried to pick an article that covered the fallout at Bon Appétit something new happened and I had to find a new piece. This article covers most of what has happened thus far, but here’s a short list of this week’s events: BA’s editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport resigned after a picture of him in brownface resurfaced, BIPOC chefs who appear in BA’s popular Test Kitchen videos don’t get paid for video appearances but white chefs do, editor Alex Delany made a Confederate flag themed cake and used a homophobic slur, and BA needs to pay Sohla El-Waylly because she cooks circles around everyone else in the test kitchen. I mean we knew this was coming, especially as BA’s parent company is Condé Nast, but damn. 

 

7. The Atlantic: Why Minneapolis Was the Breaking Point

One could articulate our current moment as a moment of despair, or “what happens when grief doesn’t have somewhere to go,” as activist Miski Noor said in an interview for this piece by Wesley Lowery. Lowery has “spent much of the past decade reporting on the Movement for Black Lives, which holds as one of its chief aims a complete upending of American policing. That reporting has meant dozens if not hundreds of nights at street protests both peaceful and violent.” The uprising sweeping the country and world that started in Minneapolis is the accumulation of all of those nights of protests and hundreds of years of the oppression of Black people. “The core ideology advanced by the black people in the streets is that the justice system—in fact, the entire American experiment—was from its inception designed to perpetuate racial inequality. The primary aim is to construct a world in which black Americans can live lives free of police harassment and violence, and are ensured justice when they are victimized—in other words, a world in which black people have access to the same protections that most white Americans already enjoy.”

 

8. Medium: Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop

In this personal essay by Officer A. Cab, the pseudonym of a former cop, the writer gives candid depictions of how he and his former colleagues abused the justice system. “Under the guise of public safety, I personally ruined people’s lives but in so doing, made the public no safer… so did the family members and close friends of mine who also bore the badge alongside me.” Along with advocating for police abolition, the former cop wrote this because he “wanted to give a first-hand account of why I believe police officers are the way they are. Not to excuse their behavior, but to explain it and to indict the structures that perpetuate it.

“I believe that if everyone understood how we’re trained and brought up in the profession, it would inform the demands our communities should be making of a new way of community safety. If I tell you how we were made, I hope it will empower you to unmake us.”

CW: Police brutality

 

9. Wikipedia: List of monuments and memorials removed during the George Floyd protests

Since the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd began a few weeks ago, more and more monuments and memorials commemorating racist figures and events have been removed. Some of the monuments from around the world were removed by government officials and others by protesters. This week, news of the removals was particularly present in the media. Here is a running list of the monuments and memorials that have been or are scheduled to be removed. 

 

10. Washington Post: Trump’s planned rally in Tulsa, site of a race massacre, on Juneteenth is ‘almost blasphemous,’ historian says

After suspending his 2020 presidential campaign for a few months due to the pandemic, this week Trump announced that he will hold a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 19th, or Juneteenth. And then, a couple days later, the rally was rescheduled for the following day. Juneteenth recognizes the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when Maj. General Gordon Granger stood at the Headquarters District of Texas in Galveston and read “General Order No. 3” to inform the people of Texas that “all slaves are free” according to President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, issued two years prior. The holiday has been celebrated ever since. Tulsa is also the site of the 1921 Race Massacre, “where as many as 300 black people were killed by mobs of white people.” The massacre is known as one of the worst acts of racial violence in the US. At the time Tulsa was home to the wealthiest Black community in the country, commonly known as “Black Wall Street.” 

Trump is strategic. He is so strategic and I, along with many others, often don’t even have words to articulate his fuckery. 

 

 

Images taken from referenced articles. Header image: Sonya Renee Taylor.

Have a suggestion for next week? Email afoehmke@bmoreart.com with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”

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