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The Internet is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 3/20

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The internet was fun this week. Highlights: Dawn Staley, Quinta Brunson, Keke Palmer, Trevor Noah on the Kanye-Kim-Pete controversy, ‘Songs That Got Us Through It’, beefs, the way things are, stories, and Normani.

 

1. Slam: Dawn Staley and the Gamecocks Are College Basketball’s Authors of Evolution

I love college basketball and March Madness. Dawn Staley is an absolute titan of the sport, and a fierce advocate of women’s basketball. Currently the head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks women’s basketball team, Staley is “a three-time Olympic gold medalist, a six-time WNBA All-Star, and most recently, an NCAA national champion as a coach. This was the path meant for her, even if she didn’t always see it herself.” 

Describing her approach to coaching as a “dream merchant for young people,” The care she has for each of her players is infused throughout this essay, making it easy to see how she is “like a lightning bolt shooting down from the heavens. A necessity for a movement toward the future” of basketball. While Staley is the only basketball coach I follow on social media, she has a dedicated fanbase (including me), the likes of which I have not seen with other coaches. 

 

2. Essence: Quinta Brunson, The Bright Light

I’m not a comedy person and just started following Quinta Brunson in the past few years. Mostly I knew her from her social media presence, viral videos and memes. I remember being sad when she wasn’t in the second season of A Black Lady Sketch Show, but by the time my late-to-comdey self caught up on the series, Abbott Elementary, a sitcom created by and starring Brunson, was all over Twitter. 

Easily one of the best shows of the year, the series was ‘inspired by Brunson’s mother’s experiences as a teacher, [and] honors the educators who are dedicated to their students, despite facing constant challenges like out-of-touch administrators and a lack of resources.” The show addresses many issues of the American education system, yet is never hopeless and is full of the optimism Brunson exudes throughout the profile.

 

3. Bustle: Keke’s World

Keke Palmer is nearing her 20th anniversary of working in the entertainment industry. Born the same year as my older sister, I watched Palmer grow up as I did—“she landed her first film role as Queen Latifah’s niece in Barbershop 2: Back in Business. Two years later she appeared in Akeelah and the Bee, earning an NAACP Image Award at 13.” Since then Palmer has also released multiple albums, starred in shows, hosted TV and other unscripted events, and more. 

Over the past few years, I’ve mostly engaged with Palmer online where she is “boldly transparent, vulnerable, and downright funny presence on social media — where she’s shared photos of her cystic acne issues, started a hotline for fans, and even detailed the time she had to go to work barefoot because she accidentally locked herself out of the house — has helped grow her fan base to over 10 million followers on Instagram alone.”

In her 20th year in the industry, Palmer has “the ability to be herself. Where she sits now is a place all her own.”

 

4. YouTube: The Kim-Kanye-Pete Controversy | The Daily Show

Ye, aka Kanye West, continues to harass Kim Kardashian, their children, and Kim’s new boyfriend, Pete Davidson. “What started as a regular celebrity scandal involving Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, and Pete Davidson has evolved into a bigger discussion surrounding the harassment many women face when trying to leave a relationship.”

While Trevor Noah isn’t the first person to notice this, and many femmes have previously discussed the topic, I’ve seen this clip widely circulated on social media. Many people seem to listen to Noah in a way I didn’t see with others who have articulated the same point (no doubt this is at the very least partially due to him being a man).

 

 

5. The Independent: From SNL and Kanye to flying into space: How Pete Davidson became the centre of absolutely everything

I’m glad someone wrote this because, as someone who doesn’t follow comedy, or Pete Davidson, I have been asking myself how he seems to be everywhere lately. Davidson got his start in stand-up comedy and received his big breakthrough when he was cast as “one of SNL’s youngest ever cast members when he joined at the tender age of 20 in September 2014.” He is known for “a down-to-earth freshness paired with a fearless ability to wear his own pain on his sleeve.”

I didn’t learn about Davidson until “he finally crossed over into the pop culture major leagues in 2018 when he began dating chart supernova Ariana Grande.” Since then he seems to be everywhere, and “tabloid intrigue has come to somewhat overshadow Davidson’s day job. SNL is at least in part designed to make fun of the week’s headlines, but the show’s goal becomes not just confused but hopelessly meta when those headlines are about one of its biggest cast members.” Like his current girlfriend, Kim Kardashian, “ Davidson is now most famous for being famous.”

 

6. New York Times Magazine: Songs That Get Us Through It

With essays by many of music criticism’s heavy hitters, the annual New York Times Magazine music issue is filled to the brim with with SoNgS oN all of the things. Each essay is paired with a song or playlist on this interactive website that will take you through the gameit of feeling and experience.

I’ve yet to read all of the essays here, but Danyel Smith’s WhAt LiEs BeNeAthHiP-HoP’s SwAGeR is spectacular. Smith traces rap, and her relationship to the genre back to her time in middle school during the early 1980s, declaring “I am a fan, and I want all the smoke. I want all fight and no flight. Pure delirium. I crave even the weariness that comes with bracing for attack, my armor as heavy as the volume is high.”

 

7. Literary Hub: Hanif Abdurraqib Breaks Down History’s Famous Beefs

The other day I had to come up with a workshop for a programme I will be a part of this summer, so I asked a friend “what bullshit am I always talking about” to field some potential ideas. My friend and I usually see each other a few times a week for multiple hours at a time and we talk about everything and nothing and she is the kind of person to pick up on the things that I’m thinking about when I don’t know that that’s what I’m thinking about.

I think a lot about care, language, and community, to use her terms. I think about how to be in relation and conflict and, like Hanif Abduraqib, “I wish more people talked about the moments that build up to a potential brawl as intimacy. The way it begs of closeness and anticipation and yes, the eye contact, tracing the interior of a person you may hate but still try to know, even if the knowing is simply a way to keep yourself safe.”

Beef requires ego, and “one of the many problems with beef—as it has been constructed throughout history—is that bystanders are used as a currency within the ecosystem of the disagreement… Beef is sometimes about who has and who doesn’t have, and with that in mind, even people can become property.” As much as this excerpt from A Little Devil in America is about beef, it is also about care and community and how in beef’s “wake is a land that looks nothing like it did before the explosion. Even the clearest memories become wind.

8. Culture Study: What If This Is Just the Way Things Are Now

I hope that the past two years are not how things are now, but the past two years have felt like a constant cycle of acute and existential crises. With the way things are, “we don’t actually leave the previous crisis behind; it just wanes in urgency, with a promise that it will certainly wax again. It demands a sort of cyclical vigilance — and it’s been the norm for the last two pandemic years, with their ongoing waves of high-alert anxiety,” writes Anne Helen Petterson. Everyday there is more news the of “climate catastrophe, of the erosion of voting rights, of the threats to trans kids and the families and health care professionals and educators who affirm them, of outbursts of horrific racist violence, of school shootings, of giant steps back when it comes to women’s bodily autonomy. It happens, then it happens again, then it just keeps happening.”

Some people have always lived with these heightened anxieties and threats, but Peterson “wonder[s], though, at how much of this feeling has to do with the fact that white, straight people with American passports are now feeling the same sort of societal precarity that has long been the norm for people without those privileges”, or rather she considers how “white people who have faced little adversity in their lives are beginning to grapple with what it means to suffer without cause, for reasons utterly outside of your control, in a way that feels abjectly unfair, with little or no recourse.”

Peterson implicates and addresses herself here as much as any reader, questioning if this is the way things are, then “how do we move forward, amidst all this relentlessness?”

 

9. Real Life: Tale Spin

Cultural critics across areas of speciality, laving long been lamenting over the decline of storytelling and narrative, and the rise of experience and vibes. As Megan Marz writes, “the mass of retrievable data about my life and the world sometimes gives me the feeling that neither could be meaningfully apprehended except through the database logic of categorization and lookup.”

In today’s digitized world, anyone who’s online also has these data, and “the ability to collect, archive, tag, and search turns everything into a topic” or “accumulation of material.” If “a story is a path hacked through [a topic],” in the relentlessness of today, mentioned above, “it feels increasingly difficult to try to hack through anything.” But ifnarratives arise when journalists visualize data, when machines ‘learn’ from it, when artists and activists describe its gaps or shape it to their own ends,” maybe we are just finding new ways to tell ourselves stories.

 

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