The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 5/9

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This was not one of my favorite weeks on the internet. Highlights: India, Colombia, Palestine, Deana Lawson, Black on the Prairies, salmonberries, mapping, Saeed Jones on Breonna Taylor, the CIA, and what is your MFA thesis. 



1. The Guardian: ‘We are witnessing a crime against humanity’: Arundhati Roy on India’s Covid catastrophe

India is in a COVID catastrophe as its rate of infection and death continue to skyrocket. This piece by Arundhati Roy is devastating, as it explains what is currently happening, and how “the system hasn’t collapsed. The government has failed.” This piece was a tragic, but captivating, and necessary read. As many have noted, the virus was spread by the rich, and is disproportionately killing the poor. Roy writes of “villages where people die of easily treatable diseases like diarrhoea and tuberculosis. How are they to cope with Covid? Are Covid tests available to them? Are there hospitals? Is there oxygen? More than that, is there love? Forget love, is there even concern? There isn’t. Because there is only a heart-shaped hole filled with cold indifference where India’s public heart should be.”



2. Democracy Now: “Nothing to Lose”: Colombians Protest “Fascist Mafia Regime” Amid Deadly Police & Military Crackdown

Nationwide protests have taken place across Colombia throughout the past week over now-withdrawn tax reform. “Over two dozen protesters have been killed since the nationwide uprising erupted last week against the U.S.-backed government of right-wing President Iván Duque and his neoliberal economic policies. Eight hundred people have been injured; 87 are missing. Protesters are vowing to stay in the streets.” These protests are also taking place as the country is in the midst of a third wave of COVID, and experiencing a death rate higher than that of India. While the protests were sparked by the tax reform, “people in Colombia are also denouncing rampant police brutality and demanding broader social, economic and political reforms.”



3. Al Jazeera: More than 170 Palestinians hurt in Jerusalem clashes: Live

Throughout Ramadan, Palestinians have been increasingly targeted by the Israeli military and police forces. Many of the attacks and protests have been based around the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem, where Palestinians are being forced from their homes by Israeli settlers. These clashes have become more violent, on top of Israel’s everyday persecution of Palestinians, and “Israeli border police and forces have attacked the sit-ins using skunk water, tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and shock grenades over the past few days.” 

At the time of this writing, dozens of Palestinians have been arrested, “at least 178 Palestinian protesters [have been] injured, 88 hospitalised in clashes with Israeli police at Al-Aqsa Mosque and elsewhere in Jerusalem.”



4. New York Times Magazine: The Artist Upending Photography’s Brutal Racial Legacy

There is so much love in this profile. So much love from Jenna Wortham given to Deana Lawson. So much love from Deana Lawson given to her subjects. 

While I’ve seen Lawson’s photographs during various museum visits, the images of hers that are most seared in my mind are her editorial work. Images of the survivors and families of shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Images of Rihanna for Garage magazine. I don’t follow photographers and don’t know of many, but this is to say that I often associate Lawson with profiles not of her but of her subjects. I’ve never sat with Lawson as the subject—in any instance—something Wortham does with love in this profile. Wortham describes Lawson’s work as “portraits of strangers so stunningly intimate and revealing they somehow make you feel as if you were being allowed into a private moment simply by gazing upon them.” And while the word “intimacy” is sparingly used throughout the profile, it is ever-present. While revelatory, this is not a “fangirl” profile but one of deep meditation and a reflection on what Wortham understands as “the challenge of Lawson’s work”: “to become aware of our reaction to it, the collision of social histories with our more personal memories, and observe what surfaces in our minds, the protectiveness and hurt — but also, perhaps, to let it go, no matter who else might be in the room looking at the work, too.”



5. CBC: Black on the Prairies

Black on the Prairies, a project curated and led by Omayra Issa and Ify Chiwetelu, asks the simple question of “What does it mean to be Black in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba?” Exploring the themes of “Migration, Putting in Work, Black and Indigenous Relations, Politics and Resistance, and Black to the Future,” “This project does not position the Prairies as Black ancestral territory or homelands. To be Black on the Prairies is to be part of a colonial legacy that begins on the ancestral lands of the First Nations and Métis people of this region. We aim to recognize Black and Indigenous peoples’ shared histories and affirm our ongoing relationships.”

I had a lot of fun engaging with and learning from this multimedia project.



6. Hakai Magazine: Thriving Together: Salmon, Berries, and People

I’ve really enjoyed Hakai Magazine recently. I always learn something new from their stories; they are well written, critical yet generative, and have what I only know how to describe as a calming vibe. 

Salmonberries, from the same genus as raspberries and blackberries, can be found throughout the Pacific Northwest, on the land that was stewarded by the writer ‘Cúagilákv’s (Jess Housty’s) ancestors for millennia before “colonization decimated our populations and decades of racist laws and policies regulated us away from our homelands and ancestral practices.” Growing up, Cúagilákv learned from her elders that “A good crop of salmonberries, we are told, corresponds to a good salmon run and luck in the harvest, and a poor crop is an early signal that we should turn to other species for our winter stores. We learn about this nourishing interrelationship early in our lives and it goes on to pattern our worldview.”

Throughout this story, ‘Cúagilákv uses salmonberries to tell the story of her people, and how western science can learn from Indigenous science. 



7. Places Journal: How to Map Nothing

I was not exactly sure what sort of mapping was going to be discussed in this article, but the title was interesting, so I clicked. In a reductive sense, the kind of mapping addressed here is the mapping of everything—the mapping of things, and the relationships between things that have yet to be mapped. Using the pandemic as a framework, Shannon Mattern explores what she calls “The Great Pause” andall the under-appreciated actors that are enabling our protected isolation, the pulsing activity powering the pause.” In doing so, Mattern looks at the history of mapping, and how one goes about mapping erasure. 



8. Twitter: Saeed Jones on Breonna Taylor

I am very intentionally including this retweet as opposed to the original tweet and article, which conveys that a horse named Breonna, after Breonna Taylor, won a race and $10,000 of its winnings were given to the Breonna Taylor Foundation. The horse was owned by the attorney for Taylor’s family. Jones’s tweet articulates the hurt and frustration with “the ingenuity in which you find ways to hurt black people, but black women especially — it wears me out. I will always be stunned by how much you love your hate of black women.” In a follow-up tweet, Jones explains how “they could’ve named the horse after Breonna Taylor’s favorite song or bird or color or time of day or star or season or city. There are so many ways to honor her AND honor her humanity. NAMING CHATTEL AFTER A BLACK PERSON WILL NEVER BE LOVE.”



9. YouTube: Viral CIA Recruitment Video Features “Cisgender Millennial” Who Says “I Am Unapologetically Me”

I don’t know what to say about this except to ask what was anyone involved in this thinking?!?! In an apparent attempt to diversify their recruits, the CIA made a cringingly “woke” video featuring a self-described “intersectional,” “cisgender millennial.” The video has been criticized from all sides with those on the right saying it panders to liberals, and those on the left calling out its performativity. It is wild—and, I mean, the CIA is basically a terrorist organization anyway. As one of my friends said about this video, “this is some post-woke dystopian bullshit.”



10. Instagram: @risdwfh

I submitted my graduate thesis book on Friday, and this coming week is my last week of school. This post (and part 2) hit me HARD! I rarely share other posts on my Instagram stories, but I shared this and many people responded with what their thesis was based on the ones given here. Mine is “decolonize but make it inside the institution.” I was read. 



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