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The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 1/31

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The internet was good this week! Highlights: Remembering Cicely Tyson, Black Lives Matter nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, breaking up with white supremacy, DaniLeigh’s racial opportunism, Black veganism, the Arab Spring, trading GameStop, why we can’t comprehend the climate crisis, Miley Cyrus’s Tiny Desk Concert, and an oral history of The Emperor’s New Groove.

1. New York Times: Cicely Tyson, an Actress Who Shattered Stereotypes, Dies at 96

Actor Cicely Tyson died on Thursday. She was 96. I think the first memory I have of Tyson in a movie was Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman. It is not the role she was most known for, but I would soon learn those. Tyson performed in more than 100 roles in film, TV, and stage, “including some that had traditionally been given only to white actors. She won three Emmys and many awards from civil rights and women’s groups, and at 88 became the oldest person to win a Tony, for her 2013 Broadway role in a revival of Horton Foote’s ‘The Trip to Bountiful.’” 

Her career and impact were extensive, as this obituary makes clear, but I’m interested to read the pieces on her that will be published in a week or month, the writing that is more meditative. I can’t stop thinking about when Toni Morrison died—and the pieces that captured her legend and her myth took time after she died. 

 

2. The Guardian: Black Lives Matter movement nominated for Nobel peace prize

The Black Lives Matter movement was nominated by Norwegian MP Petter Eide for the Nobel Peace Prize. Eide stated, “Awarding the peace prize to Black Lives Matter, as the strongest global force against racial injustice, will send a powerful message that peace is founded on equality, solidarity and human rights, and that all countries must respect those basic principles,” in his written submission. 

I, for one, am in full support of this. 

 

3. Tressie McMillan Cottom: Breaking Up With White Supremacy Was Always The End Game

Recently, I’ve been obsessed with the relationship between theory and praxis, the “distance between thought and action,” as Tressie McMillan Cottom defines it. I have to engage with a lot of white people through my graduate program who believe they are “doing the work,” when, in actuality, their actions suggest otherwise. My white classmates will talk about how “problematic things are,” quote the one bell hooks article they’ve read, and constantly talk over any BIPOC person in the room. They are the people who made numerous social media posts this summer proclaiming that Black Lives Matter, but also support classmates that are actively racist. They are the people who will give a land acknowledgment and then make a tipi. They are the people who say—but don’t do—a lot of things, and don’t understand that “breaking up with whiteness is absolutely the end game of all anti-racist, humanist, post-racism work.” 

The thing about “whiteness” is that it “sounds fancier than ‘white people’. It not only sounds fancier but it also feels safer to say.” But breaking up with whiteness can mean “pulling ‘whiteness’ down out of the clouds and seeing it not in ideas but in people, written on bodies you have touched, scattered across relationships that have sustained you. You will see it in your family photographs and in the age spots of hands that reach for you. You will, one day, look across a table at the kindest sociopaths you have ever loved.” White supremacy is a cult, and “living in a death cult is lonely.” 

But “That kind of deep loneliness can only be met and satisfied when you develop a you that isn’t built on the cult. That’s what I think comes after the break-up: a you with authentic desires that can be named and met by others who can now see you because you finally exist.”

 

4. YouTube: Let’s Discuss Dani Leigh’s Racial Opportunism and Other Nonsense

DaniLeigh posted a video clip of her new song “Yellow Bone,” in which she sings “yellow bone that’s what he wants,” and hyping her “light-skinned baddies,” as one of her comments on the video reads. Further, DaBaby, DaniLeigh’s dark-skinned boyfriend endorsed the song by posting three yellow circle emojis. Before I even address the controversy this song and DaniLeigh have created, I have to acknowledge that it is terrible. Like, it is a comically terrible song. 

The primary issue that people have with this song is that it is colorist and (perhaps inadvertently) reinforces the beauty hierarchy that light women are more desirable than dark women, and DaniLeigh isn’t Black, the complexities of which Kimberly Nicole Foster breaks down in this video. Dani, seemingly unaware of where this critique is coming from, later got on Twitter to complain about people canceling her and to say that “only god can cancel me,” to which Foster responds, “you have to be someone for us to rally to cancel you! … I don’t know you! Who are you?!?!” Dani also posted a video “apology” that is honestly embarrassing. The whole thing—from the song to the apology—is such a mess. 

This video contains a few pop culture round-ups as well, including Chloe Bailey’s “Buss It” challenge, but the discussion of DaniLeigh starts at 4:00. 

 

5. Eater: A Homecoming

Black culture is commonly associated with soul food, with “turkey wings, barbecue ribs, fried chicken — all of it accompanied by delicious, dairy-heavy sides like my aunt’s macaroni and cheese and my mom’s potato salad,” as Amirah Mercer writes of her family’s culinary traditions. Her family’s “food connected me to my ancestors and to my family around the dining room table. The way we cooked and ate — sharing freely with anyone who stopped by — felt unique to Black culture.” And when she began a plant-based diet, it “initially seemed like a rebuke of the rituals I had always known.”

Over the past few years, vegetarianism and veganism have generally been branded as something white people take up. When Mercer first considered veganism, she pictured “animal welfare activists and Goop-subscribing stay-at-home moms who had time and money to buy into the latest health craze.” As she’s learned more about plant-based foods and their history in Black culture, Mercer find[s] joy in knowing that in my embrace of veganism, I am inheriting their culinary knowledge. The long history of plant-based eating in Black culture is radical because it provides an alternative way to be Black in America — a blueprint for resisting some of the many forms of oppression we endure, freeing us to write our own story moving forward.”

I have a friend who is Dakota who recently gave up vegetarianism and I thought a lot about her when reading this. My friend recently started incorporating meat such as turkey and bison into her diet as a way of connecting with her culture. She struggled with this decision, and one of the reasons that led her to this change was the whiteness pictured by Mercer. Of her shift, my friend said that she understood the urge to “[reclaim] the food that was forced on you but I like reclaiming the food that was stolen.” In reading this article and talking to my friend, I think the commonality is about having an intentional and thoughtful relationship to food, especially as it relates to one’s culture. 

 

6. Al Jazeera: The Arab Spring Retweeted

I was in high school when the Arab Spring took place. At the time, I knew what was happening was important, but I didn’t quite have enough of an understanding of global politics to know the impact of it. I’m also young, and I largely came of age on social media (I was in middle school when I got my first account on a platform—I think it was Facebook). Because of this, I also didn’t quite understand the ingenuity of how social media was used in the uprising. 

In this article, Al Jazeera looks back at its coverage of the Arab Spring via Twitter. New analyses and infographics appear along tweets creating a timeline of the movement. I learned a lot from reading this, and am absolutely fascinated with the methodology. 

 

7. Vulture: I’m Sorry, What Is Going on With GameStop and AMC?

The internet has been obsessed with this all week! While there are a lot of elements to what’s happening, the simplest way to explain it is that a bunch of hedge fund bros shorted, or bet against, GameStop. Noticing this, a consortium of Reddit users decided to buy a lot of GameStop stock, increasing its value, and causing the hedge funds to lose literally billions of dollars. The funds were losing such a large amount of money at such a rapid pace that trading apps, such as Robinhood, limited trading of the stock. While much of the focus was (and still is) on GameStop, AMC has also been traded and affected similarly. 

I asked my father, who’s an economist, what he thinks of all of this and he said, “Generally I feel that more people investing in the market is good.” I’ve spoken to a couple of other non-hedge fund managers in econ/business and they feel similarly.

This story is still evolving, and I’m curious to see how things will play out over time. 

 

8. ProPublica: The Climate Crisis Is Worse Than You Can Imagine. Here’s What Happens If You Try.

As far as articles about climate change go, this one isn’t particularly interesting. It doesn’t add much to the scientific understanding of the crisis or present new ideas or initiatives. But then again, that’s not the point. What many people have yet to figure out is the difference between understanding and internalizing. Exploring how a person can understand that climate change is an issue, perhaps the issue, but somehow hide or separate themselves from it is a skill most of us have. 

Climate scientist Peter Kalmus isn’t like most of us, and has reached the point of salience—“the term of choice in the climate community for the gut-level understanding that climate change isn’t going to be a problem in the future, it is a crisis now.” Recognition of Kalmus’ salience, and extreme anxiety, forces one to question: “how do you confront the truth of climate change when the very act of letting it in risked toppling your sanity?” Can we do that? Or is there “too much grief, too much suffering to bear”? Usually what happens is that “we intellectualize. We rationalize. And too often, without even allowing ourselves to know we’re doing it, we turn away.”

 

9. NPR: Miley Cyrus: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

Miley Cyrus’s Tiny Desk (Home) Concert feels like a ‘90s music video. Shot in what appears to be a model bedroom, Cyrus’ short set only contains three songs—even by the metrics of Tiny Desk (most concerts are around 20 minutes, Cyrus’ is 11). This is the most theatrical Tiny Desk Concert I’ve ever seen. “But the perspective in this pink-and-purple space feels a little … odd. As Cyrus sings, it becomes clear that this is her Wonderland—like Alice full of magical cake, she’s grown to exceed her surroundings. By the end of this three-song set, Cyrus reveals that it’s the adolescent enclave that grew too small for her, not the other way around.” 

I was taken aback a bit by this concert, but after that initial confusion, I was lulled into Cyrus’ escapist fantasy.

 

10. Vulture: An oral history of The Emperor’s New Groove

The Emperor’s New Groove is a fantastic movie. If you haven’t seen it, the linked article has some gem clips. But what makes it so funny and so different from other Disney movies? Well, “in a normal four-year process, you’ve got meetings, you’ve got development people going, ‘What if the girl was a boy? What if the bird was a flower?’ And then you have to run all those ideas. But we didn’t have any time. They had to leave us [the writers] alone. It was the greatest thing in the world.”

This movie is one of the few (maybe one of the only?) cult animated films. And apparently, it did well by word-of-mouth and not advertising. The movie “opened horribly, like $9 million,” said David Reynolds, a screenwriter, but “ended at $90 million. We had a multiplier of ten. Nobody ever has a multiplier of ten. The Disney machine, which is massive, can market anything. But what is this thing? They couldn’t promote it.”

If you really want to understand how the writers felt about their project, start at section IX of this article and read until the end. This is one of the few animated pieces put together with no script, just a collection of scenes where almost anything was possible.

I also have to make this disclaimer: while I do find the movie incredibly enjoyable, it is still a movie based in Incan culture made by a bunch of white men. 

 

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