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The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 9/27

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The internet was kinda all over the place this week and I really didn’t want to be on it. Highlights: Breonna Taylor, Audre Lorde, influential people, Tory Lanez, being Black in the great outdoors, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, how November could break America, dyslexia, and Ellen DeGeneres apologizes. 

1. New York Times: Fired Officer Is Indicted in Breonna Taylor Case; Protesters Wanted Stronger Charges

On Wednesday a grand jury decided not to bring charges against police officers for the murder of Breonna Taylor. One former Louisville police detective, Brett Hankison, was charged with wanton endangerment “for firing recklessly into a neighbor’s apartment.” Of the three officers involved in the shooting, Hankison was the only one fired from the force. The other two officers, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, who fired 22 rounds at Taylor and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, were not charged. Taylor was shot six times.

Since Wednesday, protests have gripped the city, and two officers were shot during demonstrations that evening. The protests continue, and a curfew has been imposed on the city. 

 

2. The Paris Review: The Legacy of Audre Lorde

I’m always surprised at the number of people who don’t know the work of Audre Lorde. Of course, many people do know of her work, how “she wrote beyond the white gaze and imagined a Black reality that did not subvert itself to the cultural norms dictated by whiteness,” writes Roxane Gay. Lorde, Gay continues, “valorized the body as much as she valorized the mind. She valorized nurturing as much as she valorized holding people accountable for their actions, calling out people and practices that decentered the Black queer woman’s experience and knowledge. Most important, she prioritized the collective because ‘without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression.’” 

A lot of (white) people I frequently share space with, however, seem to be totally unaware of Lorde’s work. They frequently name drop bell hooks in an act of virtue signaling, but never acknowledge the work of Lorde or other Black feminist writers (I don’t know if any of them have ever even heard of Barbara Smith), truncating the intellectual work of Black women with which Lorde’s writing is in dialogue. “Without Lorde’s essay ‘The Uses of Anger,’ we might never have known Claudia Rankine’s manifesto of poetic prose, Citizen,” writes Gay. 

Gay writes of Lorde and her legacy with reverence, a lineage which she extends. Gay describes the personal and cultural significance of Lorde, writing that “Audre Lorde offers us language to articulate how we might heal our fractured sociopolitical climate. She gives us instructions for making tools with which we can dismantle the houses of our oppressors. She remakes language with which we can revel in our sensual and sexual selves. She forges a space within which we can hold ourselves and each other accountable to both our needs and the greater good.”

This article is reprinted from The Selected Works of Audre Lorde, edited by Gay. 

 

3. The Root: The Most Influential African-Americans in 2020

There were a lot of lists of influential people this week. The Root published its annual list of the most influential African Americans of 2020 and Time Magazine released its list of the most influential people of 2020 (see the next post). There were numerous names on this list I was familiar with, like Kimberly Drew and Nikole Hannah-Jones, but a lot of people I’m also excited to learn more about! It was interesting to see the overlaps between this list and the one in Time. 

 

4. Time Magazine: Most Influential People of 2020

Time Magazine released its list of the most influential people of the year. Grouped into the categories of pioneers, artists, leaders, titans, and icons, the list features Megan Thee Stallion, Ibram X. Kendi, Chase Strangio, Jojo Siwa, Michaela Coel, Julie Mehretu, Bong Joon Ho, Anthony Fauci, Naomi Osaka, and more. 

 

5. Variety: Tory Lanez Denies Megan Thee Stallion’s Account of Being Shot in a Highly Defensive Surprise Album

Over the summer, Megan Thee Stallion was shot in the foot during an altercation on her way home from a party. Initially, Megan did not name who shot her, but she eventually took to Instagram Live to identify Tory Lanez as the shooter. Lanez did not comment on the incident until last Friday, when he dropped a 17-track surprise album. The album, which I have not (and probably won’t) listen to, “contain[s] song after song packed with deeply defensive lyrics, with frequent verbal jabs at Megan, his critics, people making fun of him about his height (which was reported as 5’3”, but he wants the world to know is several inches more than that), singer JoJo (who deleted a duet with Lanez from the deluxe version of her album), ‘friends turning into enemies’ and the like.” The album’s first song, “Money Over Fallouts,” has perhaps the most talked-about lines of the album, with Lanez rapping, “
Gotta see a couple questions / How the f— you get shot in your foot, don’t hit no bones or tendons?
 / How the f— your team is trying to pay me in some whole millions? / 
I just lost like 10 million dollars because this cold business
 / But I got like 10 million followers that’s gon’ roll with me / 
Fans that support me because they know my heart.”

From what I’ve gathered from this review and social media, Lanez is just incredibly defensive and is attempting to gaslight Megan. It seems obvious to state this, but I was not present the night Megan was shot, nor were most of the people talking about it. Considering the information that has been made public, though, I believe Megan. 

 

6. Outside: Out There, Nobody Can Hear You Scream

I don’t camp. I like going on hikes and spending time outside, but I also like tiled bathrooms with heated floors. I want to like camping, but I’ve never enjoyed camping. I also spend a lot of time in rural areas with abundant Trump signs and confederate flags, and, apart from my love of tile bathrooms, that has also impeded my desire to get into camping and push my boundaries. 

From this essay’s intro text: “Two years ago, Latria Graham wrote an essay about the challenges of being Black in the outdoors. Countless readers reached out to her, asking for advice on how to stay safe in places where nonwhite people aren’t always welcome. She didn’t write back, because she had no idea what to say. In the aftermath of a revolutionary spring and summer, she responds.” Of her first article, Graham recalls how she “was light on the risks and violence and heavy-handed on hope. I come to you now as a woman who insists we must be heavy-handed on both if we are to survive.” Graham wrote this to remind us that we “deserve a life of adventure, of joy, of enlightenment. The outdoors are part of our inheritance. So I will keep writing, posting photos, and doing my own signaling. For every new place I visit, and the old ones I return to, my message to you is that you belong here, too.”

 

7. The New Republic: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the End of the One Great Woman Myth

Since Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last week, so many people have reflected on her life. My editor sent me this article by Melissa Gira Grant on RBG to consider for this week, as Grant honors Ginsburg’s legacy, while also being critical of it. 

Here, Grant tracks how RBG’s name and image came to be iconized: “The meme-ification of the precedent-setting women’s rights attorney and judge first took root in 2013, with a post quoting from her dissent in Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court case that helped undermine the Voting Rights Act.” I was 17 in 2013, and coming into my political awareness. Grant traces Ginsburg’s ascension to a meme, while looking back at the justice’s career and specific kind of legal logic which led to the “intersectional or third-wave understanding of women’s rights” that she is so often valorized for. 

“The meme was never the big problem with the false idea of Ginsburg as liberal or feminist savior, but it pointed to one—the brand-driven, girl-bossed, leaned-in conception of women’s freedom in which it incubated,” writes Grant, concluding that “the unfinished movement for women’s rights is poorly served by rallying around the life chances of one woman in considerable power.” This article provides a robust analysis of Ginsburg’s flaws—and how, despite those flaws, so many of us idolized her without criticality. 

 

8. The Atlantic: The Election That Could Break America

Since Trump’s inauguration in 2017, there has been discourse about this November’s election, about how if Trump loses this fall, he might not relinquish power. As Trump’s presidency has continued, this concern has intensified. This essay by Barton Gellman—from The Atlantic’s November issue but published early “because of its urgency,” the editor’s note explains—warns us of the one certainty for November’s election: “Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.” 

There are many ways Trump might use and manipulate the law to achieve this, and plans are already in action, as Gellman expounds upon them here. Some election laws, however, are unyielding. “The Twentieth Amendment is crystal clear that the president’s term in office ‘shall end’ at noon on January 20, but two men could show up to be sworn in. One of them would arrive with all the tools and power of the presidency already in hand.”

 

9. The Guardian: The battle over dyslexia 

I’ve never been diagnosed with dyslexia or any other learning disability, but since kindergarten, it’s been debated whether or not I have dyslexia. I couldn’t read until sixth grade, and I still greatly struggle with reading, writing, and spelling. In elementary school, I remember taking a series of tests and eye exams to figure out why I couldn’t read, but nothing conclusive was found. 

The battle over dyslexia is decades-long, but over the past few years, it has become increasingly more public. Joe Elliott, an educational psychologist, believes “dyslexia is such a broad term […] that it is effectively meaningless.” While it was once believed dyslexia only “affected bright children whose difficulties reading and writing could not be explained by the usual factors, such as low IQ, not having attended school or having a chaotic home life,” that is no longer the case. Anyone, regardless of their IQ, can have difficulty reading, and their struggles can vary widely. Further, in the UK, children from wealthier areas are much more likely to be diagnosed with dyslexia than their poorer counterparts, and children from wealthier areas are more likely to have parents apply for public funding to send them to specialized schools. As educational budgets continue to get slashed, this raises a lot of concerns for students who struggle to read, but don’t have the diagnosis of dyslexia to get support. 

The battle over the term “dyslexia” is about what it means as much as what having it represents and can get you. Some argue to keep the term around because having a label can be useful to children and families. Others who want to throw out the term because it has no solid definition argue that any child, regardless of whether they have a diagnosis, should receive the support they need. 

I went to private school and had plenty of support during the debate over whether I had dyslexia. I don’t know what happened in sixth grade, but I just kind of started reading one day. Now, most of the time I can read anything you put in front of me (although it is particularly hard for me to follow dialogue and I rarely read novels or plays). But there are still days when reading, writing, and sometimes speaking feel almost impossible. Days where I trip over my words and can’t spell the most basic phrases. Days when even spell check is lost. 

 

10. YouTube: Ellen's First Monologue of Season 18

In her opening monologue for her show’s eighteenth season, Ellen DeGeneres addressed the controversy over her show this summer. During quarantine, many allegations surfaced that Ellen’s show fostered a toxic work environment, and producers allegedly sexually harassed other employees. In the monologue, Ellen explains that there has been a full investigation of the reports and she learned “that things happened here that never should have happened.” She “take[s] that very seriously,” acknowledges her privilege, and assumes “responsibility for what happens at my show.” Hopefully the show’s work culture improves, but I do not believe that Ellen didn’t know what was happening. And if she really didn’t, it was because she was willfully ignorant. 

 

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

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