The Internet is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles 2/12/23

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The internet had me a little mad this week. Highlights: the only Black swim team, LeBron James breaks Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record, U Conn loses, the Grammys messed up, documentaries, the reality of imposter syndrome, the killing business, the State of the Union, and an earthquake in Turkey and Syria. 


Sports Illustrated: How the Only All-Black Team in College Swimming Became the Sport’s Hottest Ticket

My mother was a Black Division 1 swimmer in the 1970s and 80s. She was the first Black scholarship swimmer at her university, and one of only a three on her team. At her elite level—competing in individual NCAA championship events, qualifying for the Olympic trials— there were very few Black swimmers. Because of my mother’s prowess in the pool, and her career in aquatic management, I grew up seeing a lot of Black people swim. And I grew up seeing Black people be the strongest swimmers in the pool. I know this isn’t a common experience for most Black people, who “are 5.5 times more likely to drown than white ones,” due to a history of being barred from the sport. 

Howard University has the only all Black collegiate swim program in the country, and “roughly one-third of America’s Black college swimmers are on Howard’s campus—which also means there’s a good chance that, every year, dozens of college swim coaches never speak to a single Black swimmer.” Since 2014, Nic Askew has led the Bison’s swim team that “didn’t embody Howard’s values” and had a nearly15 year losing streak to one of the most dynamic programs in the country. With the help of a DJ, the meets have become must-attend events for “students, university staff and other locals.”

Askew’s approach extends beyond Howard’s student-athletes, and “has led a learn-to-swim program at the university pool. He also has joined with local organizations like D.C. Parks and Recreation and the local YMCA to offer swim clinics,” helping young Black people who have historically been excluded from the sport. 


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: What I Think About LeBron Breaking My NBA Scoring Record

LeBron James became the highest all-time scorer in NBA history on Tuesday, breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record of 38,387 points. A lot of people have opined about Abdul-Jabbar’s reaction to his 39 year record falling. Here, in his own words, Abdul-Jabbar of what it takes to break an NBA record: “ It takes unbelievable drive, dedication, and talent to survive in the NBA long enough to rack up that number of points when the average NBA career lasts only 4.5 years. 

It’s not just about putting the ball through the hoop, it’s about staying healthy and skilled enough to climb the steep mountain in ever-thinning oxygen over many years when most other players have tapped out.” When records fall, “it means someone has pushed the boundaries of what we thought was possible to a whole new level. And when one person climbs higher than the last person, we all feel like we are capable of being more.”


ESPN: No. 4 UConn loses back-to-back games for first time in 30 years

For the first time since 1993, the University of Connecticut’s Women’s Basketball team lost back to back games. The last time this happened was before the team, led by legendary coach Geno Auriemma since 1985, won any of its 11 national championships. 

The 59-52 loss to Marquette was the first in the programme’s history, and followed UConn’s loss to No. 1 University of South Carolina last Sunday. UConn has been the standard in women’s basketball for decades, and fans are wondering if these losses are pointing to a shift in the collegiate women’s basketball landscape. 


Salon: How Harry Styles’ Grammys speech made Beyoncé’s Album of the Year loss worse

I don’t normally watch the Grammys, but for some reason, I watched the award show last Sunday night. For the most part, I enjoyed the show! The performances (apart from Harry Styles’s) were good. 

The 50th anniversary of hip-hop tribute was an impressive feat even though it was filled with abusers, and left out the Midwest and shortchanged the South. The winners of each category made sense—HUGE congratulations to Samra Joy—until the final category, Album of The Year. Beyoncé was heavily favored in the category that included Lizzo, Mary J. Blidge, Brandi Carlirle, and Harry Styles, amongst others. AND THEY GAVE THE AWARD TO HARRY! 

Now, I am no Beyoncé fan but RENAISSANCE losing to Harry’s House is unacceptable. Beyoncé, who has been nominated in the category four times, has never won Album of the Year despite being the winningest person in Grammys history. Harry’s win “caused some audience members to verbally protest when Styles took the stage to receive the award. Fans called out Beyoncé’s name and said she should have won.” She should have. 

Harry’s speech didn’t help things as towards the end he stated that “This doesn’t happen to people like me very often, and this is so, so nice,” yet “[white men] have won in the category of Album of the Year 32 times, almost half of all the years in the history of the Grammys. Counting Styles, it’s now 33.”  Some Harry fans and Billboard tried to reason that, in his speech, “he likely intended ‘people like me’ to mean former boy band or teen-pop stars, in which case, he certainly wasn’t wrong.” Only three Black women—Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston, and Lauryn Hill—have ever won the award. Harry was wrong to say that. 

Twitter was obviously upset over Beyoncé’s snub and Harry’s speech because he shouldn’t have won. And to make matters worse, some academy voters admitted to not voting for Beyoncé in major categories, one saying “I didn’t vote for either Adele or Beyoncé in any of the top categories. I love Beyoncé’s album and have been a fan of Adele, but I feel that they have already won a lot of Grammys.” We know what it is, but GODTDAMN. 


Vulture: Reality Check

Over the past few months I’ve found myself watching more and more documentaries. They have been about all sorts of things: true crime, nature, historical features. Really anything. But when I watch documentaries from streaming services, I always get a sinister feeling, wondering if I should be watching the film or series—questioning if my viewing choices are ethical. 

Documentary film went through a golden age in the 2010s, “but as Netflix and other streamers battled for market share, documentaries themselves began to change.” Where once documentaries were relegated to art houses, “between 2018 and 2021, [the] demand for documentaries on streaming services more than doubled, and films that once had hoped to eke out a couple of million bucks at the box office were now selling to streamers for $10 million, or $15 million, or $20 million.” 

The genre has always straddled the line between cinema and journalism, something that is being highlighted in the current landscape, leading to an identity crisis in the medium. While, “documentary-making has never been ethically pure or entirely subjective,” creators, subjects, and viewers are reevaluating the genre and its ethics. 


The New Yorker: Why Everyone Feels Like They’re Faking It

Today, ‘imposter syndrome’ is a ubiquitous term. People use it across industries to describe various things oftentimes with little regard for its history. Developed by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in a 1978 paper entitled “The Impostor Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention,” imposter syndrome isn’t really a syndrome, but a phenomenon as the paper suggests. 

Over the years, however, the list of papers and articles that that reference Clance and Imes’s original idea is over 200 pages long. As Leslie Jamison writes here, the popularization of their idea as a ‘syndrome’ had distorted it. Every time Imes hears the phrase “impostor syndrome,” she told me, it lodges in her gut. It’s technically incorrect, and conceptually misleading. As Clance explained, the phenomenon is ‘an experience rather than a pathology,’ and their aim was always to normalize this experience rather than to pathologize it. 

Their concept was never meant to be a solution for inequality and prejudice in the workplace—a task for which it would necessarily prove insufficient.” In understanding the phenomenon “more broadly, it seems clear that the #girlboss branding of impostor syndrome has done a disservice to the concept as well as to the workplaces it has failed to improve.” Imposter syndrome has been used to pathologize individuals, “fail[ing] to recognize the real obstacles facing professional women, especially women of color—essentially, that it reframes systemic inequality as an individual pathology.” There are a lot of other terms taken from psychology out there that need a profile like this. 


Slate: Our Business is Killing

This is an absolutely gut-wrenching read. Veterinarian Andrew Bullis “never understood why veterinarians are at such a high risk of suicide. Until I became one.” In this piece Bullis helps readers understand the personal tolls euthanizing animals takes on vets. Yes, the vets are meant to heal animals, but as one of Bullis’s professors once explained, “There’s only so much we can do. In the end, euthanasia is an option…If there’s one thing you must do flawlessly in your career, it’s killing. I don’t care if it’s an old dog, a sow, some pet chicken, a stallion, or a fucking 3-day-old kitten. You will do it humanely. That means quickly, painlessly, and compassionately.”


Twitter: Saeed Jones Tweets the State of the Union

To be honest, I did not watch Joe Biden’s State of the Union address. But I did follow Saeed Jones live tweeting the event, and it seemed like a bit of a mess. Marjorie Taylor Greene heckled the event, and, as someone that didn’t watch, the address had Real Housewives vibes. Tbh, I’m a little sad I didn’t watch live, and I’ll probably sit down and watch sometime this week. 


Mississippi Today: ​​‘Only in Mississippi’: White representatives vote to create white-appointed court system for Blackest city in America

Mississippi Goddamn. On Tuesday, “the Mississippi House voted after an intense, four-plus hour debate to create a separate court system and an expanded police force within the city of Jackson — the Blackest city in America — that would be appointed completely by white state officials.” 

Jackson is 80% Black, and if the bill becomes law “the white chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court would appoint two judges to oversee a new district within the city — one that includes all of the city’s majority-white neighborhoods, among other areas.” Written by by Rep. Trey Lamar, “Many House members who represent Jackson on Tuesday said they were never consulted by House leadership about the bill.” This is every kind of fucked. 


Al Jazeera: Death toll climbs above 20,000 after Turkey-Syria earthquake

On Monday a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake spread across Turkey and Syria. Destruction caused from the event has already killed over 20,000 people, a number that has risen all week. While the UN is sending aid, “human rights groups sharply criticized the delivery’s timing and content.” Further, there is currently a single border crossing between Turkey and Syria, but “UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for more aid access to northwestern Syria from Turkey as he sought an expanded mandate from the UN Security Council to allow UN help to be delivered.”


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