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The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 7/25

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The Internet was juicy this week. Jeff Bezos went to outer space (and was a dick about it), and Marjorie Taylor Greene doesn’t understand HIPAA, Jeremy O. Harris tweeted in support of Lena Dunham, and no one knows what to make of this photoshoot. Highlights: Gloria Richardson, Ishmael Reed, Kiese Laymon, A People’s History of Black Twitter, Leon Bridges, INDUSTRY BABY, Lorde, and This is the End.

 

 

1. The Nation: The ‘Creative Chaos’ of Gloria Richardson (1922–2021)

I don’t remember the first time I saw the picture of Gloria Richardson pushing away the bayonet of a National Guardsman’s rifle, but I’ve thought about that image a lot over the past few months. The iconic photograph was also used as the header image for Namwali Serpell’s essay “Unbothered” in the Yale Review. 

The feminist activist and scholar Barbara Smith “learned about Gloria Richardson when I was a teenager in the early 1960s . . . I might have seen Richardson on TV, but more likely it was in the pages of Ebony, Jet, or the Call and Post, Cleveland’s Black newspaper. Although I had no real concept of sexism or gender politics at the time, Richardson made an impression because it was so unusual to see a Black woman out front leading.” 

A leader in the Civil Rights Movement, Richardson died on July 15 at the age of 99. Richardson began organizing in 1962 at the age of 40, and became a leader in the SNCC-affiliated Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee which subsequently “expanded its demands beyond the traditional civil rights focus on desegregation to include jobs, decent housing, and health care.”

While “Richardson’s politics are not necessarily easy to categorize, but at the end of the day, she was a race woman—a woman devoted to the betterment of Black people in America . . . At a time when there is increasing recognition that Black women’s vision and leadership are critical to the survival of the nation, many who might be inspired by Richardson’s extraordinary life have never heard of her. Now that she is an ancestor, I hope they will.”

 

 

2. The New Yorker: Ishmael Reed Gets the Last Laugh

So much about this profile by Julian Lucas on the multifaceted writer and satirist Ishmael Reed is so good. At 83 years old, “a self-described ‘writer in exile,’ [Reed] lives a strange double life as a canonical author of the twentieth century and an underground voice of the twenty-first.” This profile beautifully captures that duality with paragraphs such as the following:

“Reed believes that the capricious tastes of white readers have made Black literature appear to be a revolving door of transient stars. ‘Our writers can’t be permanent,’ he says, like Hemingway and Faulkner. ‘We just have bursts of creativity every ten years or so, and then you get a new crop in.’ He’s unimpressed by the recent Black Lives Matter-inspired wave of interest in anti-racist reading, which he dismisses as hyper-focussed on ‘life-coaching books about how to get along with Black people.’ Anti-racism, he said, is ‘the new yoga.’”

I’ve seen this profile all over Twitter for the past week. Usually when I see articles posted frequently, people use the same handful of quotes. Not with this one, this is too rich for that—there are too many quotes to pull. 

 

 

3. LA Review of Books: Conjuring Love: A Conversation with Kiese Laymon

Anytime that I read Kiese Laymon’s writings or interviews, I know that I’m going to need to take a pause. I know that I’m going to have to sit with what he says and writes. I know that I’m gonna experience some bars. 

Centered around Laymon’s novel Long Division, which “begins in 2013, with ninth-grader Citoyen ‘City’ Coldson and his schoolmate competing in the contest ‘Can You Use That Word in a Sentence?’ The only two Black participants, they have been brought in to ‘decorate’ the traditionally white event. Bright, eager, and sensitive, City gloriously refuses to use the word ‘niggardly’ in a sentence and winds up an internet sensation.” This conversation with Jane Radcliff embodies the book’s “story of bone-deep love, enduring racism, a missing girl, the Holy Ghost, loss, sexuality, family (chosen and blood), sacrifice, hope, horror, tenderness, a talking cat, staggering grief, and ridiculous amounts of humor.” Most apparent throughout this interview, however, is the absurdity of reality, and Laymon’s unerring belief in love. 

 

 

4. Wired: A People’s History of Black Twitter, Part I (and Part II)

I didn’t join Twitter until LATE. I’d heard about it in middle school, but didn’t make an account until after I finished undergrad in 2017. When I joined Twitter, Black Twitter was already well established. I LOVED reading this three-part (the third has yet to be published) oral history of Black Twitter, which in many is also the history of Twitter itself. As the TV and podcast host Brandon Jenkins recounts here, “we weren’t calling it Black Twitter back then. It was just Twitter.”

 

 

5. Texas Monthly: How Going Home Helped Inspire Leon Bridges’s New Album—And Saved His Life

I read a lot of profiles, but Casey Gerald’s profile of Leon Bridges feels like something I would stumble upon in an anthology of short stories. The pacing of the story is consistent, but Gerald weaves in and out of time throughout the profile, mentioning things that “I must tell you about before we’re done.” 

This piece is intimate and casual, like the music of Bridges, who, according to Gerald, is “taller than I thought. He’s funnier than I thought, cackles with his whole body, lifts his eyebrows as he laughs, like he’s surprised that you said something funny. He’s Blacker than I thought, and if you know what I mean, then you know what I mean. He really does dress that way, even in the grocery store. He really will, as the musician-prophet Terrace Martin warned me, answer a question with a guitar and a song.” And if you ever wondered, Bridges “really is that nigga.” 

 

 

6. Spotify: Gold-Diggers Sound by Leon Bridges

I listened to this album twice: once while reading the profile above and once on its own. Casey Gerald’s piece above was the first profile I’d ever read on the singer Leon Bridges—everything else I knew about him I gleaned from his short visits to his Wikipedia page. I like the album on its own, but I have to say I didn’t love it without Gerald’s profile—which convinced me to listen to the album again, on its own. On a second listen, I hung on to notes the way Gerald described them, sung with a “voice [that] cut through everything, through the chords . . . through me.” 

 

 

7. YouTube: Lil Nas X, Jack Harlow – INDUSTRY BABY (Official Video)

Whenever Lil Nas X does anything, it will be all over the internet. In a new music video for the song “INDUSTRY BABY,” which is set inside of a pink prison, the rapper takes a naked shower (as one normally showers). The video is also a fundraiser for The Bail Project which “[raises] money & awareness for cash bail in America.” You can donate using the button next to the video on Instagram. 

 

 

8. YouTube: Lorde – Stoned at the Nail Salon (Visualiser)

I got into a mildly heated conversation with my friend’s daughter, who is 15, about this song and Lorde’s “Solar Power.” My friend’s daughter enjoyed both songs, but I don’t. It isn’t that I don’t like this song or “Solar Power,” but that I don’t find them worth intentionally listening to. To me, they are simply, averagely, fine. However, both songs are quite divisive and heavily discussed on certain parts of the internet (see below). 

 

 

9. Vulture: What Makes Lorde’s ‘Solar Power’ So Divisive?

One of my closest friends grew up in LA with parents that worked in arts and entertainment. Almost every time anything happens in music, TV, or film, we text each other. We’ve had an ongoing conversation about Lorde over the years, and she was the first person I texted after listening to Lorde’s recently released “Solar Power.” We both thought the song was fine, but my friend enjoyed it more than me. (I should also reiterate that, at this point, I fervently believe that “Solar Power” and “Stoned at the Nail Salon” are nothing exceptional.)

As a follow-up to our discussion, my friend sent this article in which writer and poet Hanif Abdurraqib is in conversation with Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding of the podcast Switched on Pop. Here Abdurraqib explains how Lorde “is definitely not like a singer singer, but she is a very, very skilled deliverer of language” and that “the reason why [“Solar Power”] doesn’t move me to rapturous excitement is because it’s perhaps a slight downgrade on what she showed herself to be capable of.” 

A large reason that I am interested in this interview and discourse is that I predict the conversation surrounding Lorde and her music will only get more divisive when she releases the album Solar Power on August 20th. As for my final thoughts on the song, I’ll take Abdurraqib’s advice and wait for “how [the song] looks on the album.”

 

 

10. The Ringer: An Introduction to “This Is the End” Week

This week, in honor of the release of HBO’s Woodstock 99: Peace, Love, and Rage, The Ringer is exploring “the moments that changed the world as we knew it, yes, but more specifically the ones that marked the ends of established eras and triggered the beginnings of then-unknown futures. Some will be overt and well-established: an entire industry course-correcting after boundaries were egregiously and irrevocably crossed, the spirit of a decade dying in the flames and dirty water of a music festival.”

I learned of “This Is the End” week through “The Day the Good Internet Died” but quickly found myself skimming most of the stories in this series. Some of the moments written about I knew of, but others I never knew existed before this week. 

 

 

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