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The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 2/6

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The internet had a good mix of drama, long reads, and things I simply enjoyed this week. Highlights: 10 years since Trayvon, Black southernness, Tasha K, Janet Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg’s comments, divesting from Spotify, winning, Hannah Traore, Aint Afraid, and Rihanna. 

 

 

1. New York Magazine: 10 Years Since Trayvon

This month marks 10 years since George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin. Since then, “‘Black Lives Matter’ has grown from a hashtag to a protester’s cry to a cultural force that has reshaped American politics, society, and daily life. It is, at the same time, a specific collection of organizations and people whose decisions have attracted both applause and criticism; whose actions have been a source of intrigue; whose personal relationships have both strengthened and splintered under the stress and exposure.”

Constructed as a timeline—beginning on February 26th, 2012, the day Zimmerman shot Martin, and ending on what would have been Martin’s 27th birthday, February 5th—this piece highlights major events in this past decade’s fight for Black lives. Throughout the piece, at relevant moments, other articles from this edition of the magazine are introduced and linked to provide further context and analysis. 

 

2. The Atlantic: In the Black South, You’re Always Considered

This past year I’ve been thinking about my maternal grandmother a lot more often. Born in the 1920s, no one knows the exact year, she grew up in rural Mississippi. She moved north to Michigan, where I grew up, with my grandfather towards the end of the Great Migration. The more I meditate on my grandmother, the more I come to realize that I’m meditating on her southernness. Of her siblings, my mother is the only one born in the north. She grew up spending her summers in the south at the family homestead, but I’ve been there less than a handful of times, and only once as an adult. 

One of my friends sent me this article as a sort of follow-up to a recent conversation we had about our ancestry. For much of her childhood, she grew up in Philadelphia. Her maternal grandmother also grew up in the south. After hours of a rambling conversation, we decided that we are (somehow) going on a roadtrip to the south to trace our ancestry—but specifically to connect to our grandmothers. 

Imani Perry was born in the south and considers it “as both an idea and a region.” In this installment of her newsletter, Perry explores recent encounters she’s had with André Leon Talley and Eartha Kitt—with their work, legacies, and impacts. They reflect her newest book, South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon Line to Understand the Soul of a Nation, which Perry describes as “a book of encounters” and “more invitation than proclamation, more exploration than argument.”

Both Talley and Kitt grew up in the south and were often thought of as “singular,” something that isolates them from a culture to which they attribute so much of their singularity. In the south “people keep track of you. They note your personality and disposition from an early age, even if they are not family members. They remember these things because you are part of the fabric of the place. And even if you have departed, you are still considered.”

My friend and I want to explore how our family is built upon that of “Black Southerners [who] have been traveling since the beginning of being a people, here, so often against their will in slavery, or as fugitives in escape. And then, after emancipation, they often traveled under duress, looking for work or a little less American racist violence. Departure and loss were part of being excluded from citizenship and mainstream civic life. So to hold onto people, to consider them always, whether they were here or there, was a way of sustaining connection.”

 

3. YouTube: Lessons to Learn from the Timely Demise of Tasha K

I spend a lot of time online but, unfortunately, it is not my full-time job. Thankfully people like Kimberly Nicole Foster of For Harriet do. Foster’s analyses of internet happenings are always well researched. Here, she covers the demise of YouTuber Tasha K, who was recently successfully sued by Cardi B for defamation, invasion of privacy, amongst other claims, for spreading malicious lies about the rapper, including the assertion that she had herpes.  

In this live, Foster overviews the timeline of the case and discusses its importance for the relationship between the media, content creators and influencers, and celebrities and public figures going forward. 

 

 

4. YouTube: Janet said it’s time to forgive Justin Timberlake. Let’s talk.

In addition to recapping Tasha K’s demise, Kimberly Nicole Foster also delved into one aspect of the recently released Janet Jackson documentary and how it covered the 2004 Superbowl halftime performance. Jackson invited Justin Timberlake to perform with her, and at the end of the set, Timberlake ripped part of Jackson’s bodice off, exposing her nipple. 

For years we have all been blaming Timberlake, however this documentary (which I have not watched) brings about new information indicating that he might not be entirely to blame. 

In Foster’s extremely well-researched analysis (it is known she is Janet Jackson stan) she provides a nuanced perspective of the fallout from the incident and why it impacted Jackson particularly hard. Additionally, Foster discusses how YouTube was literally created as a result of the halftime incident, and how that influenced Netflix and the streaming services we have today. 

 

5. The Jerusalem Post: Are Jews white? Is Whoopi Goldberg Jewish? ‘The View’ Holocaust controversy, explained

On a Monday episode of The View, co-host Whoopi Goldberg stated that the Holocaust was not about race, rather it was about “man’s inhumanity to man.” This comment was made in the context of the show discussing Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus, which the Tennessee School Board decided to ban, and “immediately went viral and struck a nerve, leading to what Goldberg described as a deluge of accusations of antisemitism and Holocaust denial, and criticism from groups like the Anti-Defamation League.” Goldberg apologized later that day, but on Tuesday she was served a two-week suspension from the show. 

There are a lot of moving parts to this story that require a nuanced conversation. Frankly, I didn’t find an article that fully addressed all of the intersections of this situation. The Jerusalem Post is known to be conservative, but I found this article to be helpful. While there is no doubt that what Goldberg said was antisemitic, as Nazi Germany considered Jewish people to be of an inferior race, I do not believe the actor’s comments came from a place of malice. To me, it sounded as though she did not understand how race and racial ideology function differently across time and geographical regions. Whether Jewish people should be considered a race—or an ethnic group, a religion, a family—is a topic “that has polarized the Jewish community — and those who seek to discriminate against them — for centuries.” 

Along with a written apology, Goldberg went on Late Night with Stephen Colbert to clarify her remarks, and after still misunderstanding their impact, invited Jonathan Greenblatt from the Anti-Defamation League to The View to discuss her comments, take accountability, and publicly learn and have a conversation about why and how the Holocaust was about race. 

Many have considered Goldberg’s punishment harsh, including “Jews across the political spectrum … who objected to her original remarks.” Even Spiegelman, the author of the book The View had been discussing that day, agreed Goldberg’s suspension went too far. “I think [Goldberg] had conflicting images of where we’re at right now, in the sense that somehow us Jews have become honorary white in this moment, and that allowed her to get a bit confused about where the issues really are,” Spiegelman said in a Democracy Now segment

As a point of contrast, Meghan McCain, a former co-host of The View, said numerous abhorrent and discriminatory remarks during her tenure and never received even close to the same punishment—something that has been noted across social media. Further, McCain took this moment to slam Goldberg’s “bizarre, incoherent, and even dangerous comments about the Holocaust” in her column for the Daily Mail without taking accountability for any of her own dangerous comments. 

 

6. The New York Times: Why I’ve Decided to Take My Podcast Off Spotify

Personally, I’ve never listened to Joe Rogan’s podcast nor do I ever wish to. Roxane Gay describes the show, which is exclusive to Spotify, as having episodes that “are long and meandering, as Mr. Rogan muses on whatever is on his mind — including false claims that Covid vaccines are ‘essentially a gene therapy,’ for example. His guests are often people hovering on the intellectual fringes, purveying dangerous misinformation about Covid and other topics. Sometimes, racism is sprinkled in his conversations, just to keep things interesting.”

In protest, this past week Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and India Arie have removed their music in protest. 

In this opinion, Gay announces her decision to remove her podcast, “The Roxane Gay Agenda” from Spotify, though it will remain on other platforms. Gay doesn’t support censorship, and she writes that “there’s a difference between censorship and curation. When we are not free to express ourselves, when we can be thrown in jail or even lose our lives for speaking freely, that is censorship. When we say, as a society, that bigotry and misinformation are unacceptable, and that people who espouse those ideas don’t deserve access to significant platforms, that’s curation. We are expressing our taste and moral discernment, and saying what we find acceptable and what we do not.” This decision is “not trying to impede anyone’s freedom to speak. Joe Rogan and others like him can continue to proudly encourage misinformation and bigotry to vast audiences.” However, Gay is “trying to do the best I can, and take a stand when I think I can have an impact.”

 

7. The Georgia Review: Against Winning

While I have not phrased it as being “against winning,” recently I’ve been reevaluating what I want and what my metrics of success are. As I am going through the first year after graduate school, the competition of life feels more intense. Part of it has to do with the ageism of our culture. I am in my mid-20s, and the (bullshit) gap to accomplish something before I turn 30 is closing. I’ve been coming to the realization that there are lots of things I could have that have the traditional indicators of success (careers, power, prestige, etc.), all of the things that indicate winning. Writer Stephanie Burt observes, “Pressure to win seems much older than the United States. And yet in the modern United States it can seem to be, not only everything, but everywhere.” 

I’ve been feeling this everywhere, especially since moving to New York—a city that in many ways is the acme of this—and I don’t know what to do about this feeling. The city’s possibilities are seductive, but at the same time, I find myself asking all of the questions that Burt asks here. Questions about who judges what, using which metrics of success and bestness. Questions about what is the value of winning. 

I have not divested from many of these systems (nor do I have the capacity to in many instances), but I do find myself thinking about them almost constantly.

 

8. W Magazine: Hannah Traore Wants More From the Art World

If you have been anywhere on the art internet, specifically the New York art internet, curator Hannah Traore has been all over the place. In full disclosure, I’ve known Hannah for years, which is part of the reason she has been particularly present in my social media feeds, but she has also had features in Artnet News, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Cultured, to name a few. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to see the inaugural exhibition of her eponymous gallery on the Lower East Side that has sent the internet ablaze, but I’m interested to see how Hannah addresses the fact that Black art is “in” and a trend right now, something she considers to “be quite dangerous, because with the market being so saturated, sometimes galleries aren’t doing the work to find great artists. There are enough Black artists for every single gallery in New York to show an incredible piece, but because their attempt at inclusion is performative.”

I’m very excited to visit the space and see what Hannah’s program will offer next. 

 

9. YouTube: Aint Afraid – Always There [Official Music Video]

My former roommate introduced me to Aint Afraid last year and they are such a vibe. In this most recent video the twin musicians, born in Baltimore and raised in Detroit, sing to an unidentified other, someone that they deeply cared about. The chorus continuously questions, “How you bite the hand that fed you? / How you slight the hands that feed you?” Despite the harm this person has done, they sing “still, I can’t cut you off” and simply ask to “just give me peace, I gave you patience.”

 

10. Twitter: Rihanna

Rihanna announced she is expecting a baby with rapper A$AP Rocky on Monday, and Twitter reacted exactly as one would have thought. There were lots of congratulations, and we all came to the devastating understanding that Rihanna will not be releasing new music anytime soon. 

 

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