The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 6/27

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I feel like the internet was all over the place this week but I also really enjoyed it. Highlights: Juneteenth, Doja Cat, “the internet is black,” the Black TikTok strike, Nick Cannon, Britney Spears, Rachel Lindsay, investigating federal Indian boarding schools, and maybe the aliens are coming. 



1. Tea with Queen and J.: #297 The Juneteenth Episode

For the longest time I didn’t like listening to podcasts, but over the past few months I’ve increasingly found myself listening to Tea with Queen and J., self-described “womanist race nerds talking liberation, politics, and pop culture over tea.” The weekly podcast covers current events and in this episode they discuss “what federal recognition means for a traditionally Black holiday, who should celebrate and who shouldn’t, and the OG Opal Lee!”

I know I included a lot about Juneteenth last week, but all of those articles were published before the actual holiday (my deadline is Friday night). In this episode, Queen and J., who have both celebrated Juneteenth in various ways since childhood, reflect on how the holiday has been celebrated differently over the years and what it actually felt like to celebrate last weekend. 


2. BuzzFeed: How Doja Cat Keeps Dodging Cancellation

The headline of this article got me. I don’t really follow Doja Cat, but I know a couple of people for whom she is atop the list of “problematic faves.” While I haven’t listened to it, her new album, Planet Her, has been lauded by fans and critics alike. As Doja has “dodged cancellation for being associated with disgraced producer Dr. Luke and allegedly white supremacists,” she is galvanizing her “unprecedented Teflon-like quality” as “a pop star who spent her early years shitposting and freestyling online all while largely soldiering through controversy. And her particular brand of satire might be exactly why she hasn’t found herself alienated, even as she enters her alien era.” 

I never know what is going on with Doja, but “if she can survive constant internet draggings, drop routine hits, and keep us all engaged, perhaps she’s setting a new format for the modern-day pop star.”



3. The New York Review of Books: Black Hole

This piece is from March but I just found it. I absolutely love Namwali Serpell. What I’ve read of Serpell’s work always feels evergreen, including this piece, “because the Internet is black.” Writing at the intersection of the internet, Blackness, and gender, Serpell’s work encapsulates how “the Internet is a black woman, and we know this because we say we resent it, but we depend on it.” 

After reading the term “genital flap” in a book on racism, Serpell begins an internet investigation that she narrates through this essay. Speaking to the bodiliness of the internet, this essay is her “lazy, stirring, stroking slippage across these surfaces, over image and word, with the occasional plunge into anatomy textbooks and historical archives and college syllabi and Twitter and YouTube, the odd exchange of links and texts and tweets and likes.”



4. The Guardian: ‘They can’t do it without us’: Black TikTokers strike to protest dance appropriation

Black creators on TikTok are on strike to protest dance appropriation and other forms of digital blackface. Sparked by the release of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Thot Shit,” Black TikTokers have vowed not to choreograph a dance to the song (as they have done in the past), as many viral dances are created by these Black TikTokers who are now on strike who receive little to no attribution or compensation. “The action was meant to make white creators rethink compensation, citation and ethical collaboration with Black creators on this and other social platforms,” according to Amanda Bennett, co-founder of consultancy firm design&empower.

There have been some different responses to this, some of which Kimberly Nicole Foster covers in the latter part of the video below. 



5. YouTube: Nick Cannon’s Super Sp*rm

The title of this video is a bit misleading as the first 25 minutes (the reason I picked this) are about Nick Cannon and his six, soon to be seven, children, and the rest is a round-up of what happened on the internet from the past week. Last Sunday it was announced that Cannon was expecting a child with Alyssa Scott just days after DJ Abby De La Rosa gave birth to twins of whom Cannon is also the father. These births also follow that of Cannon’s daughter with Brittany Bell, Powerful Queen, who was born in December 2020. This is A LOT of mess that the internet had a lot to say about, and much of which is covered by Kimberly Nicole Foster in this video. 


6. Vanity: Read Britney Spears’ Full Statement Against Conservatorship: ‘I Am Traumatized’

On Wednesday, Britney Spears gave a testimony to a judge about her experience under the conservatorship of her father and it is absolutely devastating. Spears talked about how she has been traumatized by the arrangement, in place since 2008, and explained how “right now in the conservatorship, I’m not able to get married or have a baby, I have a (IUD) inside of myself right now so I don’t get pregnant. I wanted to take the (IUD) out so I could start trying to have another baby. But this so-called team won’t let me go to the doctor to take it out because they don’t want me to have children – any more children.”

This lightly edited statement, and the hearing at which it was given, “came after years of near-silence on the issue from the singer, although the New York Times published a report earlier this week citing private legal documents that state she has been trying to end the conservatorship for several years, citing mismanagement by her father and the extreme legal costs involved.” 



7. The New Republic: The Darker Story Just Outside the Lens of Framing Britney Spears

I found this article by Sara Luterman through a tweet by Sarah Lerner. In this review of Framing Britney Spears, directed by Samantha Stark, Luterman points out that, contrary to what the documentary argues, Spears’ conservatorship “isn’t an anomaly, and in actuality, conservatorship has few safeguards and checks. Legal personhood is regularly stripped from disabled people through conservatorship, and nobody blinks an eye. The biggest difference is that Spears is famous. The unusual part of the story is that people are paying attention.” 

While there are no hard numbers on how many people are under conservatorship, “there are many young people under conservatorship, mostly with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as some with significant mental illness,” and “a 2019 report from the National Council on Disability describes a ‘school-to-guardianship-pipeline,’ in which conservatorship over students with intellectual and developmental disabilities leaving school is treated as a matter of course.”

I really appreciated the context this review gave to conservatorships in relation to Spears’ testimony above.



8. Vulture: Rachel Lindsay Has No Roses Left to Burn

I loved reading this but also constantly found myself exclaiming “WHAT?!?!?” in a high-pitched voice. Rachel Lindsay, The Bachelor Nation’s first Black Bachelorette, confesses in this piece many of the things that are obvious about the franchise, but adds in some juicy details. No longer desiring a relationship with The Bachelor franchise, this piece is Lindsay’s farewell in the form of an exposé to the series. Throughout the piece, Lindsay gives explicit examples of the franchise’s apparent racism (you can’t go 16 years and 34 seasons without a Black lead without racism) and explains that “I was a token until I made sure I wasn’t.”

I’m glad she wrote this piece and got all of this off her chest but I’m also confused about why she didn’t research the show more before she agreed to go on (she only watched one season after she was cast), and why she trusted her two white co-workers who said “Rachel, if you do it, you’ll go far.” The co-workers were right, of course, but they were right at the expense of everything Lindsay talks about in this essay. 



9. The New Republic: Is America Ready to Face the Truth About the Atrocities Against Indigenous Children?

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced on Tuesday that “the federal government, led by her department, will ‘undertake an investigation of the loss of human life and the lasting consequences’ of federal Indian boarding schools.” This announcement was sparked by the recent discovery of “215 Indigenous children buried in a mass grave outside of Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada” and “751 unmarked graves at Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.” Since these findings, “Indigenous leaders in Canada and the United States called for more accountability and transparency from the settler governments that perpetrated these acts, as well as the religious institutions that often welded themselves to the schools’ assimilationist missions.”

There aren’t questions about Haaland, the first Indigenous cabinet member and a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, and her team’s “willing[ness] to ask the right questions or adequately consult with tribal nations. By all accounts, her team is well equipped to produce a thorough and sensitive review and series of appropriate recommendations for reconciliation. Rather, the defining question that will face the Interior and the entirety of the federal government once this report has been filed is twofold: How open will Congress and the White House (especially their future Haaland-less versions) be in implementing the Interior’s recommendations, and just how far back is the U.S. willing to peel the veneer of American exceptionalism and actually reckon with its role in the genocide of Indigenous peoples?”



10. The Guardian: How pop culture has shaped our understanding of aliens

I’m not exactly sure why, but I didn’t know that the recent report by the US Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force has “sent America’s long-running UFO fascination into overdrive.” One of my friends, however, is highkey obsessed with anything to do with space and the cosmos and couldn’t believe that I didn’t know about the report. 

After “decades of government disinterest or silence on the matter, the public has turned to pop culture – particularly film and television – that refracted fascination with the unknown into extraterrestrial stories that have shaped our collective shorthand for aliens: flying saucers, little green men, hyper-powerful beyond our own.” As someone who loves alien movies, it was fun reading about how “alien movies have generally reflected shifting cultural anxieties, from the existential terror of nuclear war to foreign enslavement to loss of bodily control.” One thing that my friend and I did notice missing from this article, however, was an analysis of how “good” aliens or robots are often coded the same way as racialized characters, and function as stand-ins for BIPOC human characters. 



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