The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 11/15

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The internet is starting to become more normal again—whatever that means. Highlights: Dave Chappelle’s SNL monologue, social media managers are not okay, Quawan Charles, Doreen St. Felix on Jamaica Kincaid, the hardest sentence Kiese Laymon has ever written, Beyoncé, Kehlani, Jhené Aiko, Teyana Taylor, Summer Walker, Canadian lobster fishing and Indigenous rights, and The Queen’s Gambit.


1. YouTube: Dave Chappelle Stand-Up Monologue - SNL

Dave Chapelle hosted Saturday Night Live last week, the night Biden’s projected victory of the presidential election was announced. Admittedly, I don’t know much about Chappelle’s oeuvre, but I’ve heard his more recent comedy punches down on trans and gay people and victims of sexual violence, which is one of the reasons I’ve never spent much time with his work. Last week’s SNL episode was highly anticipated, as was Chapelle’s monologue, and I had or saw conversations about it both in person and online. 

I have only watched his segment from last week, and the feeling of this monologue isn’t celebratory, but pensive. Chappelle is happy that Trump lost the election, but doesn’t let that distract him from critiquing racism in the US in addition to Trump and his response to COVID-19, and the pandemic generally. 


2. One Zero: The Social Media Managers Are Not Okay

I used to be obsessed with social media in a way that I no longer am, and it used to be the center of my artistic practice. Over the past few years, I’ve greatly changed my relationship with social media. I put less importance on it in my life, and am not interested in it in a professional way as I once was. 

Professional social media managers have always had high-stress jobs, and with the onset of the pandemic, that stress has been exacerbated. “In the relentless news cycle of 2020, social media managers are first responders,” writes Marta Martinez. “At a time when many are feeling social media’s impact on mental health and the burnout of working through a pandemic, they are under immense pressure to stay online, always be on call, respond quickly, and not make mistakes.” While those of us who don’t work in social media can take a break from the platforms, we “don’t know what it’s like to live in that Twitter feed… to live in the comments section and to be able to see a populace that is agitated, that feels hopeless, that feels angry, that feels powerless,” says social media manager Christina Garnett, who is quoted in this article. Many social media managers understand their profession to be “a hazardous job that should be paid accordingly.” I only occasionally and briefly spend time in social media comment sections and I couldn’t agree more. 


3. Washington Post: Louisiana boy’s suspicious death leaves family asking if racial bias slowed police response

Fifteen-year-old Quawan Charles was found dead on November 3, four days after he was reported missing, in rural Louisiana. According to police reports that have yet to be made public, Charles died from drowning. His family contests this, as Charles “appears so disfigured that his teeth are visible outside of his mouth.” His family has requested an independent autopsy. Further, while a report was filed the day Charles went missing on October 30, the police “gave no indication over the next few days that they were searching for the teen or actively investigating his disappearance.” 

Charles’s death was compared to that of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black boy who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955. After Celina Charles, a cousin and the family’s spokesperson, “watched last week as [Quawan Charles’s mother] ran from a viewing room screaming in anguish at the sight of her son’s mutilated face,” she asked, “Is it Emmett Till bad?”


4. SSENSE: Putting Myself Together

For me, this is the piece I chose this week that requires the deepest dive and the most research I have yet to do. Doreen St. Felix revisits Jamaica Kincaid’s essay Putting Myself Together, published in 1995 in the New Yorker. I hadn’t heard of Jamaica Kincaid before reading this. St. Felix’s introduction to Kincaid’s republished essay describes her as someone who “always says precisely what she said… Kincaid shows a vigilant regard for her younger self, handling her history delicately, letting the uncertainty be: what she admits she does not remember, and what she did not know, what she did not care about.”

Putting Myself Together takes time, just as putting oneself together does. 


5. Lit Hub: Why I Paid Tenfold to Buy Back the Rights for Two of My Books

This introduction to the revised edition of Kiese Laymon How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and his introduction of it here, has given me so much to think about. The subtitle of this post reads, “revision, radical friendship, and community.” While Laymon describes his literal and literary friendships, and why he bought the rights back to his first two books so he could “[publish] them the way they want to be published,” this is also a reflection on reflection, and learning how to write the hardest sentence you have ever written. Right now, that sentence for Laymon is, “I am proud of myself for not giving up, for accepting help, for not drowning in humiliations of yesterday and the inevitable terror of tomorrow.”


6. British Vogue: “I’ve Decided To Give Myself Permission To Focus On My Joy”: How Beyoncé Tackled 2020

I’ve gotta say, I usually hate Beyoncé profiles and interviews. This doesn’t reflect my feelings about her as an artist and performer, but press about Beyoncé tends to be her responding to softball questions that are filled with more fluff. Most profiles of her are boring and don’t actually present anything new. 

The photos for this profile are stunning, and while Edward Enninful does get Beyoncé to share new information via his questions, this interview still feels very fluffy to me compared to some other celebrity profiles. 


7. Billboard: Kehlani, Jhené Aiko, Teyana Taylor and Summer Walker on the State of R&B

I’ve been listening to a lot more R&B recently, and it is impossible to do that without spending time with music by Kehlani, Jhené Aiko, Teyana Taylor, and Summer Walker. Reading this transcript of a roundtable discussion between these women is filled with so much criticality, respect, and generosity. In this conversation the women (particularly Taylor) are so honest and open about the state of R&B, and being a woman in the genre. Also, the photos are AMAZING! 


8. Genius: Jazmine Sullivan Breaks Down the Meaning of ‘Lost One’

I have been listening to Jazmine Sullivan’s “Lost One” since the song came out in August. As I wrote for this column in August, “the single is pensive, remorseful, with Sullivan reflecting on a past relationship she doesn’t want to let go, understanding that ‘Sometimes it’s too late to make amends,’ pleading ‘Just don’t have too much fun without me / Don’t have too much, don’t have too much fun / Please don’t forget about me / Try not to love no one.’” In this video, Sullivan walks us through the lyrics, describing how she wrote the song, and what it means to her. 

9. The Guardian: ‘We won’: Indigenous group in Canada scoops up billion dollar seafood firm

A lot of Americans talk about Canada in a fantastical way. Yes, they have a universal healthcare system, but Canada is also incredibly racist, especially if you look at Indigenous rights. This week, “leaders of the Membertou and Miawpukek First Nations, both of which are Mi’kmaq communities, reached an agreement to buy Nova Scotia-based Clearwater Seafoods in a deal worth C$1bn,” approximately 762,000 USD. This purchase means that the Mi’kmaq now own 50 percent in the industry, and “will have full ownership of Clearwater’s coveted offshore fishing licenses, which allow the harvest of lobster, scallop, crab and clams in a massive tract of ocean known as LFA 41.” This deal comes “at the centre of a tense and at times violent battle over their right to harvest lobster,” which Mi’kmaq people have done sustainably for 13,000 years. As ruled in 1999 by the supreme court, Indigenous people have the right to fish for “moderate livelihood,” however what that means was never clearly established. And the fisheries minister, Bernadette Jordan, stated that “We need to sit down with First Nations and do what we should’ve done 250 years ago. We need to review fishery plans and implement them together.” Some non-Indigenous fishers, however, are upset over this deal and there are concerns that it could heighten tensions. 


10. BuzzFeed: There’s A Very Good Reason Why Everyone Is Watching “The Queen’s Gambit”

I cannot recommend The Queen’s Gambit enough. The mini-series is based on Walter Tevis 1983 book by the same name, and there have been numerous failed attempts to bring it to the screen over the years.

I watched the show twice in two days when it first aired a few weeks ago, and am sporadically rewatching it for a third time. The show is gripping, and kept me at the edge of my seat the first time I watched it. The subsequent viewings, however, revealed the massive amounts of details I missed while immersed in the show’s masterful broad strokes. As Elamin Abdelmahmoud writes, “the show is familiar, it’s also aware it’s landing in an environment where audience expectations are so shaped by trauma, and it has its fun with those expectations.” The show is filled with brilliant performances, perhaps most notably Anya Taylor-Joy’s portrayal of Beth Harmon, the show’s protagonist and chess prodigy. 


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