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The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 2/14

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The internet was good but intense this week. Trump’s second impeachment trial began on Monday; he was acquitted on Saturday. Today is Valentine’s Day, believe what you want. Highlights: Grief, inheritance, stories of slavery from those who survived it, a crisis in Classics, the children of QAnon believers, Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird, Justin Timberlake should apologize, the Super Bowl, and #gorillagluegirl. 

 

1. The Baffler: Grief’s Anatomy

I love Hanif Abdurraqib’s writing. I love his poetic prose, and I’m constantly learning from the way he structures his thoughts, weaving personal narrative with theorization and analysis. In this essay, as the title suggests, Abdurraqib ruminates on grief, and how “the grief of this moment, this life, is torrential. More for some than others, of course. But in the midst of it, one small, distinct grief that I have been focused on is the grief that sits alongside the immense pride and excitement I feel watching young activists step fully into themselves and realize they are entirely unmoved by and unafraid of power.” Abdurraqib continuously balances grief with hope and imagination, writing of community and “the desire to be among people who can at least try to confirm for you that you have not lost your mind” and who can “point us back to the horizons we’ve lost sight of.”

 

2. The Atlantic: Inheritance

I’ve only begun to explore this project and issue of The Atlantic, which aims to “revive what [the magazine] began to call ‘lost Black history,’” as the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg, notes. After recounting the magazine’s history of publishing the work of Black writers such as Charlotte Forten, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Goldberg goes on to write that “the articles in this issue of the magazine represent the first fruits of this continuing effort, which you will see manifest itself in print, on our website, and everywhere The Atlantic makes journalism.”

 

3. The Atlantic: Stories of Slavery, From Those Who Survived It

This article by Clint Smith is part of The Atlantic’s aforementioned Inheritance project. Smith bases this article on an exploration of the Federal Writers Project (FWP), which “collect[ed] the oral histories of thousands of Americans,” to explore what these stories mean to the descendants of these tellers and to our country. “From 1936 to 1938, interviewers from the FWP gathered the firsthand accounts of more than 2,300 formerly enslaved people in at least 17 states. The members of the last generation of people to experience slavery were reaching the end of their lives, and so there was an urgency to record their recollections.” 

In the concluding paragraphs, Smith notes that we are also in an unprecedented time, and that “in a few decades, [we will] be living in a world in which no one who experienced the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Voting Rights Act of 1965 will still be alive,” and imagines what a Federal Writers Project today could look like. 

 

4. New York Times Magazine: He Wants to Save Classics From Whiteness. Can the Field Survive?

Dan-el Padilla Peralta, a professor of Classics at Princeton University, is attempting to change his discipline. Classics is a discipline that has served as the foundation of Western civilization, and has “been embraced by the far right, whose members held up the ancient Greeks and Romans as the originators of so-called white culture.” Seeing this crisis in the field, “Padilla believes that classics is so entangled with white supremacy as to be inseparable from it. ‘Far from being extrinsic to the study of Greco-Roman antiquity,’ he has written, ‘the production of whiteness turns on closer examination to reside in the very marrows of classics.’”

 

5. HuffPost: ‘I Miss My Mom’: Children Of QAnon Believers Are Desperately Trying To Deradicalize Their Own Parents

I’m not quite sure why it has taken me so long to include a story that is specifically about QAnon, “a far-right conspiracy theory movement centered on the idea that Donald Trump is championing a shadow war against a ‘deep-state’ cabal of liberal elites who rule the world and run a global child sex trafficking ring.” I’ve known of the movement for months now, as it is hard to be on the internet without coming across something that mentions the movement. Maybe I didn’t include it because I didn’t want to give the movement another platform before the election and inauguration, but I honestly don’t know. 

Millions of people are part of QAnon, and it “is especially popular among baby boomers who are struggling with digital literacy.” A lot of these boomers have children, such as Elaina, one of several interviewed here, who “doesn’t understand how her own mother could believe in the kind of crazy conspiracy theories that her friends make fun of online. That’s often the hardest part for people in her situation. How could someone so close to them — especially a parent — buy into something so ludicrous?” For some families, it is becoming them or QAnon. (See also: Tressie McMillan Cottom’s article Breaking Up With White Supremacy Was Always The End Game I included a few weeks ago.)

 

6. GQ: Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird Are Goals

This profile is very well written. While I previously knew who Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird were—“titans of their respective games, internationally celebrated activists, preeminent LGBTQ+ icons of the 21st century, the most beloved power couple in sports”—I’m not a stan. But I enjoyed reading this and learning about the soccer and basketball duo, and I have a more profound understanding of their impact. (Also, my favorite part of any profile, amazing photographs.)

 

7. BuzzFeed: Should Justin Timberlake Apologize?

Yes, Justin Timberlake should apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson. 

Framing Britney Spears, The New York Times-produced FX documentary, came out on the February 5. There has been increased conversation about the #freeBritney movement, which aims to liberate the singer from her father’s controlling court-ordered conservatorship, and there’s been more discussion about how Justin Timberlake used Britney to launch his solo career. I have not watched the documentary, but, as Scaachi Koul writes, it “focuses on who is to blame for Spears’ mental health issues and the conservatorship she seems to want to get out of, and the usual suspects are trotted out: her money-hungry father, ruthless paparazzi who wouldn’t give her a break, Diane Sawyer and her unspeakably cruel questions, society. But the internet does seem to agree on one particular villain: Britney Spears was failed by so many people, but no one did her worse than Justin Timberlake.” The two singers dated from 1999 to 2002, and the lead single from his debut album, Cry Me a River, “seemed to be all about Spears cheating on him, made worse by a music video featuring a Spears lookalike.”

As Koul explains in this essay, Timberlake has a pattern of “shirking off any responsibility while watching — or promoting — the ruthless slut-shaming, of two women,” as the singer received almost no blame for exposing Janet Jackson’s breast during their 2004 Super Bowl halftime performance—something that Jackson’s career still hasn’t recovered from. Timberlake did post an apology on Instagram, but it’s too little too late, and, at this point, probably won’t affect his career.

 

8. YouTube: Jazmine Sullivan & Eric Church Sing the National Anthem at Super Bowl LV

The Super Bowl happened last Sunday. I didn’t watch, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs. I did, however, watch Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church sing the national anthem, and tbh, it was awkward. When the singers were first announced I thought the arrangement would be more similar to the performance of “Stone Cold” by Demi Lovato and Brad Paisley at the 2016 iHeartRadio Music Awards, where Lovato sang and Paisley accompanied. Instead, Sullivan and Church both sang, and it felt like Sullivan was holding herself back for most of the performance. I loved Sullivan’s vocals and want to hear her sing the song on her own. 

9. YouTube: H.E.R. Sings America the Beautiful at Super Bowl LV

H.E.R. also performed at the Super Bowl, singing “America the Beautiful,” and it was a very H.E.R. performance. There was an amazing guitar riff. I’m here for it. I’m also here for the hella cute interview H.E.R. and Jazmine Sullivan had with Gayle King on CBS this morning the day after the game.

 

10. TMZ: GORILLA GLUE HAIRDO She’s Finally Unstuck …SEE VIDEO OF MIRACLE SURGERY!!!

This story has captured the internet all week. About a month ago Tessica Brown used Gorilla Glue spray adhesive when her normal hair spray ran out. Since then she has tried many things to remove the adhesive, and went to the ER earlier in the week, posting a video on TikTok that quickly went viral. Dr. Michael Obeng, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon was finally able to remove the adhesive using “medical grade adhesive remover, aloe vera, olive oil and a dash of acetone.” 

 

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