The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 2/21

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A lot happened on the internet this week but there weren’t a lot of long reads. Kimye is getting divorced, and Amy Cooper (AKA Central Park Karen, AKA Darth Karen) got her criminal charges dropped. Highlights: Eric Eddings speaks out about Reply All, The Emancipation of Mimi, Time100 Next, HBO’s Black Art, the richest Black girl in America, what addiction steals, birria, Perseverance lands on Mars, Ted Cruz went to Mexico, and Rush Limbaugh died. 


1. Twitter: Eric Eddings speaks out about Reply All

Podcaster Eric Eddings—who formerly worked at Gimlet, which produces the Reply All podcast—posted a Twitter thread Tuesday alleging a toxic work environment at the media company. He posted the thread after he “felt gaslit” upon listening to RA’s miniseries on Bon Appétit’s reckoning with racism and discrimination called “The Test Kitchen,” which I linked to last week. Eddings only listened to the podcast after receiving an email from Reply All senior reporter Sruthi Pinnamaneni. 

In the thread, Eddings details how Pinnamaneni and RA host PJ Vogt created the same type of environment at Gimlet that they were reporting on and condemning at BA. Both Pinnamaneni and Vogt have reportedly taken a step back from RA due to the accusations. 

There is a lot to take in from this thread. 


2. 68to05: 2005: Mariah Carey, The Emancipation of Mimi

I LOOVEEEEEE reading about Mariah Carey! I like Carey’s music, but I think I love reading about her—what she means to people, and how she claims space for herself—even more. Carey is undeniably a diva, which requires “claiming oneself publicly and unapologetically,” writes Adrienne Maree Brown. She is part of a lineage following “Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston,” and “Mariah Carey’s self is perpetually young, romantic, and definitively multiracial.”

I never paid much attention to music when I was younger, and I think The Emancipation of Mimi was the first time I heard Carey sing, or at least the first time I could recognize that it was Carey singing. I encountered Carey as she declared her freedom (at least publicly). “With Emancipation, Mariah Carey showed us how she was entering her diva phase – not just as a vocalist with an incredible five-octave range, not just as a biracial balladeer, but as a grown woman, in her dignity, in her confidence, in her own style: sensual hip-pop infused with power bottom dreams from a singer with a pure heart and a big vocabulary that she was unafraid to deploy.”

I’ve gone back and listened closely to Carey’s early work as I’ve grown up, allowing me to understand just how emancipatory The Emancipation of Mimi was, hearing that “It was Mariah demanding to be accepted as herself, no compromises, no labels limiting her, no longer shrinking into any one else’s concepts of what she sound like.” Until reading this essay, I didn’t fully realize how this is the only Mariah I have ever known. 


3. Time: Time100 Next

Time Magazine released its list of Time100 Next, “an expansion of our flagship TIME100 franchise that highlights 100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future.” These lists are always controversial and political, but I love looking through them and learning about interesting people doing interesting things. 

I also find the concept of this list to be somewhat odd and it almost reads like Time was out of ideas and had a lot of money. Idk. 


4. Hyperallergic: A Premature Celebration of the Ascension of Black Artists

I have yet to sit down and watch HBO’s Black Art: In the Absence of Light, a new documentary film that focuses on Black visual artists. The film is saved in my queue, but I haven’t watched it because I’m skeptical of what “Black Art” is, as codified by an institution such as HBO. Black art and artists have been in the spotlight over the past few years—and I’ve noticed this to be especially true in the blue-chip gallery and museum spheres of the artworld. The movement seems to only be growing, and, Seph Rodney writes, this documentary “is exactly an argument for and a testament to how Black people’s aesthetic production has moved toward the mainstream of US culture, and how key actors in the Black community have intentionally and consciously sought this. And it demonstrates precisely what the community gives up in striving toward this goal.”

While the argument made in the film, as recounted by Rodney, aims to make a simple, digestible narrative of Black art and thus Blackness, I appreciate that he complexifies that in his review, giving credit to many Black artists, critics, curators, and more that are overlooked by the documentary, and also asks “how do the producers justify truncating the notion of Black art by ignoring its diasporic valences which contain Caribbean, British, and Canadian artists who have settled in the US?” 

I still want to watch the documentary, but my skepticism has increased. 


5. Truly Adventurous: The Richest Black Girl in America

I had never heard of Sarah Rector before reading this story. In 1913, when Rector was 11, massive amounts of oil were found on land she owned through the Creek Nation’s Freedmen Roll as her “ancestors had been enslaved by the Creek tribe.” Rector became rich overnight. People sent letters and marriage proposals, and some outright demanded a portion of her money. Due to Rector’s new wealth, “the white establishment had to square two irreconcilable facts. Here was a girl who now had the spending power and associated privileges of some of the country’s wealthiest tycoons; and yet that girl was Black. The only thing they could think to do was have the court declare her white, which ironed out the logical conundrum.” Further, because of her young age, “a white financial guardian was appointed to oversee Sarah’s money. The insidious rules instituting this requirement for minors followed a blatantly racist logic that Black parents were inherently incapable of managing their family’s affairs.” 

After years of white men controlling, and in many cases stealing, her money, hours before her 18th birthday, Rector “yielded control of her fortune, those trustees transferred all her money right back to her and stepped away from the case for good,” and finally regained control of what was rightfully hers.  


6. The Rumpus: Voices on Addiction: Thief in the Night 

This piece by Heather Stokes is, in many ways, the answer to a question her parole officer asked her “six months after the end of a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence I served for larceny and embezzlement.” The question seemed simple enough: “What do you feel addiction has stolen from you?” Stokes knew the question was probably in reference to her own addictions, but she “did not want to talk about those. Instead, I went back in time, back to a time before I knew that substances and people were not meant to be abused. The many years my uncle, brother, and father spent in and out of prison, leaving my mother and I alone.” 

This essay is punctuated by truisms for Stokes on what addictions steal. These statements inform the experiences she recalls for why they are, in fact, true. 

“Addiction steals your innocence.”

“Addiction steals your trust.”

“Addiction steals your motherhood.”

“Addiction steals your celebrations.”

“Addiction steals your sleep.”

“Addiction steals your integrity. Your freedom, too.”

“Addiction is a thief of your goodbyes.”


7. New York Times: The Birria Boom Is Complicated, but Simply Delicious

For all of the pandemic, my Instagram feed has been fully covered in pictures of birria. Traditionally served as a Mexican stew, birria also winds up in soups, tacos, burritos, and even ramen. After a few months of the constant barrage of drool-worthy images, I finally decided to make some of my own, as no restaurant near me serves the dish. In preparation, I spent days watching YouTube videos, all of which emphasized how much the recipe changes based on the region, “but with so many variations, even from a single kitchen, it’s hard to say exactly what makes birria birria — even for birria makers.” While the popularity of the dish means that “a white woman is sharing her ‘authentic birria’ recipe made with boneless beef, packaged bone broth, a few shakes of smoked pimentón and some puréed carrots — the dark side of internet fame, for any dish,” it also means “that entrepreneurial Mexican and Mexican-American cooks have been able to set new businesses into motion all over the country, and use birria to preserve older ones.” 


8. YouTube: Watch NASA’s Perseverance Rover Land on Mars!

On Thursday NASA’s rover, Perseverance, landed on Mars. Perseverance, “the biggest, heaviest, cleanest, and most sophisticated six-wheeled robot ever launched into space,” will explore “Jezero Crater for signs of ancient life and collect samples that will eventually be returned to Earth.” 


9. The Atlantic: Ted Cruz Is No Hypocrite. He’s Worse.

Texas was hit by a massive snowstorm this past week and millions across the state have gone without power or water in subfreezing temperatures. Amid the storm, the state’s junior senator, Ted Cruz, took a trip to Mexico. According to a statement, “he took the trip at his daughters’ behest.” When images of Cruz at the airport began circulating online, many called him a hypocrite, but what’s worse “is not that he was shirking a duty he knew he should have been performing. It’s that he couldn’t think of any way he could use his power as a U.S. senator to help Texans in need.” While senators don’t necessarily have local governance responsibilities, “[a] U.S. senator has immense unwritten power. [Cruz] can use his connections, and the doors that a Senate role opens, to call on businesses and leading citizens to get things done. He can also use his political network to organize relief efforts.” The problem is he did none of that. 


10. The Atlantic: Don’t Read This If You Were a Rush Limbaugh Fan

Rush Limbaugh died, and good for him. Limbaugh, who amassed a massive following through his nationally syndicated talk show, was a hateful and volatile man whose beliefs constantly undermined many people’s entire existence. Although the explanation of Limbaugh’s rise to prominence—as Conor Friersdorf explores in this article—is interesting, I will not miss him. 


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