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The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 3/21

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The internet was a lot, but it interesting this week. Highlights: Anti-Asian violence, stories that haven’t been told, identity hoaxers, Samaria Rice and Lisa Simpson’s demands, the Grammys, March Madness, and Victoria Monét.

 

1. Next Shark: 6 Asian Women Confirmed Dead After Atlanta Mass Shooting, New Details Reveal

Eight people, six of whom were Asian women, were killed in a domestic terrorist attack in Georgia on Tuesday night. The shootings took place at three different massage parlors. The shooter has admitted to the crimes, and “claims that the attacks were not racially motivated and that he has ‘a sex addiction.’” 

Unsurprisingly, the media isn’t calling this what it is: a hate crime. The ramifications of this are vast, many of which Roxane Gay describes in the article below.  

 

2. The Audacity: A White Man’s Bad Day

For some, the recent rise in anti-Asian violence seems like a new phenomenon, not something that has been codified into this country’s laws for more than a century. As Roxane Gay explains, “the Page Act of 1875 banned Chinese women from immigrating to the United States to protect the labor market and to coddle a moral panic around prostitution. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was a broader application of the Page Act, and included men, placing a moratorium on Chinese immigration for a decade and the Chinese immigrants who were in the country could not become citizens.” For most of the pandemic, the GOP has practiced and stoked racism, writing in a 2020 memo that “everyone was referring to this as the Wuhan virus before China decided to push its propaganda. Whatever you want to call this virus, China is responsible. It’s more important to hold China accountable and prevent this from happening again than it is to be politically correct.” 

In this piece, published only a day after the shooting in Georgia, Gay writes that “Already the media is reporting on this hate crime in Georgia, the same way they always do every single time a young white man is the perpetrator. There is an inexplicable refusal to engage with hate crimes as hate crimes. There is no explanation of the context surrounding these crimes, or an examination of their origins. Instead of using language appropriately, instead of identifying domestic terrorism and racism for what they are, there are milquetoast headlines and quotes from people who knew the perpetrator, and his church… The story is written before it is written.” At a press conference, police said that the attacks were not racially motivated and that the shooter was having a “bad day.” We know this is not the case, and that “there is a systemic refusal to acknowledge racism as racism and it is killing us.”

Throughout this article Gay addresses and dispels false histories and negative stereotypes many of us carry against Asian Americans. “There have to be consequences for racism. We need more than hashtags,” she writes. “We need more than symbolic gestures on Instagram. We sure as hell do not need people turning their avatars into yellow squares. We need more than allyship. We need to intervene when we see or hear anti-Asian discrimination in ourselves, with our friends and loved ones, in our communities. If we do not hold this line, if we do not take this stand, we will lose more ground to white supremacy than we already have.”

 

3. Gen: Anti-Asian Violence Must Be a Bigger Part of America’s Racial Discourse

In this conversation, Alexander Chee speaks to Cathy Park Hong, whose collection of essays Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning was published at the beginning of the pandemic. Hong is clear that she was not “trying to write a definitive manifesto of the Asian American experience. It was more that I wanted to write what it felt like to grow up in an invisible body and with the hidden persecuted history that I had as a Korean.” However, as she states here, readers, including Chee, have found the book to be “both a mirror and a window to their racial experience.” Chee and Hong’s conversation ebbs and flows from explicit discussions about Minor Feelings, anti-Asian violence, and the “triangulated relationship that Black, Asian, and white people have had for so long, and [how] white people are the ones who devised this triangulated relationship in order to maintain white dominance.”

 

4. The Atlantic: The Identity Hoaxers

I have a lot of feelings about this article. It is very clear to me early on that this article is written by a white person for a white audience, as Helen Lewis writes “you would be surprised at how many there are”—”there” being white people “reverse passing” as nonwhite people. Personally, I am not surprised as people have been doing this for a very long time, and Lewis presents a cursory understanding of the phenomenon. 

Lewis traces people’s compulsion to assume the identity of marginalized and oppressed groups to childhood trauma and, quoting Robin DiAngelo, to white people “need[ing] to feel grief about the brutality of white supremacy and our role in it.” While this might be true, some important parts of this conversation are glossed over or not mentioned at all. One of these is how Jessica Krug, who was a professor of Black History, spent several years cultivating different racialized identities before finding one that was believable. Krug was very intentional in her deception, even if she did experience childhood trauma. 

It is also important to point out that white people claiming to be racialized—specifically Black—is a privilege. Most people of color, especially Black people, cannot claim to be white because of racialization and anti-Blackness, and while some Black people have historically “passed,” the stakes are much higher as a Black person could have been killed if they were discovered to be passing. Further, colorism is never mentioned in this article, which is one of the reasons so many people who reverse-pass are successful in their endeavors—it is their proximity to whiteness.

If you want to know more about this topic from a Black perspective that provides more historical context, The Grapevine TV has an interesting episode on this (Uchechi Chinyere and Ayesha K. Faines make particularly good points on the panel).

 

5. Emergence Magazine: The Stories I Haven’t Been Told

I’ve been reading a lot more prose and personal narratives recently. I’m working on a piece of writing for my graduate thesis that, in its initial form, was a letter. I’ve been reading more personal narratives to study how different writers weave stories so I can understand how I want to write my own. 

In this piece, Jamie Figueroa explores her own history, one that was never told to her, largely through the lens of epigenetics, a field of science that reveals that “you have within each of your cells approximately three generations of trauma. Your body, the record keeper. An inheritance of emotional history.” Figueroa traces her family’s process of assimilation, which “feels not so much like being erased as being pasted over—thick layers of whitewashing—until a blank surface has been created on which the dominant culture asserts itself, produces a replica of itself. And while for some newcomers to this country it may seem like a choice (depending on their race and class), for many it is implicit, expected. Survival.”

 

6. Google Docs: Official Statement from Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, and Lisa Simpson, mother of Richard Risher

This week Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, and Lisa Simpson, mother of Richard Risher, jointly released a statement condemning the actions of famous activists using the deaths of their children to gain clout. Both Samaria Rice and Lisa Simpson had sons who were killed by police officers. The statement reads, in part, “Tamika D. Mallory, Shaun King, Benjamin Crump, Lee Merritt, Patrisse Cullors, Melina Abdullah and the Black Lives Matter Global Network need to step down, stand back, and stop monopolizing and capitalizing off our fight for justice and human rights. We never hired them to be the representatives in the fight for justice for our dead loved ones murdered by the police.” The document also includes a list of six demands, the last of which is to “send personal donations to the cashapps of $SamariaRice and $LisaLee693.”

 

7. Slate: This Year, the Grammys Were Actually … Good?

I didn’t watch the Grammys this year and chose instead to watch highlights the next day. From all accounts, the show “was actually kind of … good,” and left critic Carl Wilson writing “Has there really been nothing bad yet? Bizarre,” in his notebook halfway through the show. While there were some mishaps, they “were minor, mostly painless wobbles,” and throughout the night “heartfelt beat grandstanding.”

This kind of makes me regret not watching the Grammys. I knew they were happening but didn’t care because of how bad they’ve gotten over the past few years. 

 

8. YouTube: Beyoncé Wins Best R&B Performance | 2021 GRAMMY Awards Show Acceptance Speech

One of the highlights from this year’s Grammys was Beyoncé winning her 28th award, making her “the first female artist and the first singer of any gender to have won 28 Grammys… although it’s notable that only one of those 28 has been a top-category prize, the song of the year award for ‘Single Ladies’ back in 2010,” as noted in the previous Slate article. Beyoncé, who won her 26th and 27th awards earlier that evening, seemed genuinely shocked both when it was announced that she tied the record with her 27th win and beat it with the 28th. 

 

9. The Washington Post: After backlash, NCAA vows to improve weight room at women’s basketball tournament

March Madness is underway, and as a person that grew up in a Big 10 college town, it is one of my favorite times of the year in sports. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the governing body for college sports, is facing backlash after pictures circulated online of the massive disparity between weight training facilities for the national men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. “An NCAA spokesperson told The Washington Post that officials initially thought there was not enough square footage for a weight facility at the convention center playing host to the women’s tournament.” However, many coaches and players inside the basketball bubble have questioned that and posted videos showing “that the rack of dumbbells that served as the women’s weight training was located in enormous and entirely empty part of the convention center.”

The NCAA has stated that it will improve the women’s facilities but, my question is, how did you mess up that badly in the first place?!

 

10. YouTube: Victoria Monét – Jaguar (Live Session)

Victoria Monét released a live version of her song “Jaguar,” and it is just so much fun! As someone who writes and constantly critically engages with culture, I always try to include something that is simply fun, and I like it because I like it. This week, that thing is “Jaguar.” 

 

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