It’s Black History Month! If you aren’t Black, give Black people some money!!! Highlights: Black History Month, Pyer Moss, Kenya Barris, book banning, AP Courses, Ilhan Omar, George Santos, reading the internet, awe, and the Dallas Zoo.
Twitter: Tea with Queen and J. on Black History Month
Black History Month is here and “every f*cking Black History Month, somebody says, ‘They gave us the shortest month of the year’…When that’s not even what had happened. Here’s *why* Black History Month is in February.”
The Tea with Queen and J. podcast breaks down the origins of the month that is an expansion of Carter G. Woodson’s “Negro History Week” founded in 1926 “to celebrate the history & accomplishments of the Black community.” Check out this thread for the full story and pay Queen and J. and other Black people while you’re at it.
The Cut: The Promise of Pyer Moss
In the 2010s, “Kerby Jean-Raymond was one of fashion’s most celebrated young designers,” and one of few Black designers in that space. Founder of Pyer Moss, Jean-Raymond had awards, money and mentorship, and the support of people like Anna Wintour, but nothing much has come of the brand in the past few years. Despite all of this, the promise of Pyer Moss has not been fulfilled, leading many people, including Tahirah Hairston to ask why.
Hairston points to a few problems with both his designs and business practices. His most recent show, a Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode show in 2021 was a flop. Apart from a collaboration with Reebok, few of his designs ever made it to retail. The brand “was often late in paying factories and, as a result, did not have good relationships with them. Contrary to what the Pyer Moss website implied, often when items were listed as ‘sold out,’ it was due to very limited stock rather than high demand.” Jean-Raymond was dismissive and “gaslighting” to his staff, firing and hiring people in succession.
Since this story was published, more stories about Jean-Raymond and Pyre Moss have been shared online. A lot of people on the internet are reading this as a “cancellation” or a “hit piece” on Pyer Moss and Kerby Jean-Raymond, when, in reality, it is a thoughtful analysis on how they both failed.
RollingStone: Kenya Barris Defends His Brand of Comedy: ‘Have You Ever Looked at the Mona Lisa?’
Kenya Barris’s You People came out on Netflix a few weeks ago and it had the timelines talking. The movie was co-created by and starring Jonah Hill, alongside a star-studded cast that includes Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Nia Long, David Duchovny, and Lauren London, You People puts a comedy spin on Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner as an interracial couple (London and Hill) contends with the latent bigotry of their families as they navigate being a Black woman and a Jewish man in love.”
It has all the hallmarks of a Barris creation, who is most famous for creating the sitcom Black-ish and its various ish spinoffs. The film has “interracialism, heavy-handed social commentary, and a brilliant cast that shines despite the material,” and re-engendered one of Barris’s main and longest standing critiques: that his work perpetuates colorism, specifically to Black women.
Hanna Phifer pushes Barris on just that during this conversation asking “You’ve touched on colorism in some of the work, including grown-ish and black-ish, but you seem frustrated when it’s pointed back. Is there a reason for that?” This conversation is good, but Barris doesn’t come off great.
The Nation: Florida Teachers Hide Their Books to Avoid Felonies
This week some teachers in Florida had to cover or remove all of the books in their classrooms for fear of “up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for displaying a forbidden book, which is a third-degree felony.” This moves comes after the state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, signed a bill into effect last year “which barred pornography and ‘age inappropriate’ books and required that all reading materials ‘be suited to student needs.’”
However, school districts have not decided how to implement this and here we are. This also comes as amid much controversy over “last week’s decision not to allow an Advanced Placement African American Studies course to be taught in Florida high schools,” and DeSantis’s “Individual Freedom Act, also known as the “‘Stop W.O.K.E Act,’ short for Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees. The law, among many things, prohibits teaching certain concepts related to race. Although there’s currently an injunction against the law, its implementation has far-reaching consequences for students and professors alike.”
Twitter: Jack Schneider on AP Courses
Discussions last week over Florida’s decision to not allow AP African American Studies to be taught in the state also lead to a conversation on the history and function of AP courses in general. Jack Schneider, a professor and scholar of education history, breaks down the history of AP courses in this Twitter thread, and how it has changed over the years.
The New Republic: House Republicans Brazenly Oust Ilhan Omar From Foreign Affairs Committee
Representative Ilhan Omar was removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee after a contentious 218-211 vote. While Republicans went “after Omar for past comments she has made about Israel, accusing her of antisemitism,” it is clear that she was targeted from being a Muslim immigrant.
Omar has apologized for the comments in question on multiple occasions. As Omar poignantly said while closing the debate on Thursday, “Today is about who gets to be an American. What opinions do we get to have, do we have to have, to be counted as Americans?”
Politico: 16 Hours With George Santos: Dunkin’ Donuts, 27,000 Steps and a Scolding
George Santos is a menace. Jesús A. Rodríguez has the unfortunate (yet comical) task of reporting on Santos, writing that “Between the congressman’s non-answers and the sweet nothings I witness over 16 hours and 27,000 steps following Santos around the Hill, one thing is becoming abundantly clear: The political purgatory where this merchant of fables finds himself is an increasingly brutal place to inhabit. And indeed, a week after my tour with him, on Jan. 31, he told his fellow Republicans that he’s stepping down from his committee assignments.”
Friday Things: The Life-Changing Magic of Understanding Subtext on the Internet
I have a friend who is very “not online.” Almost every time we hang out, I say something that leads to great confusion on her part, and frustration on mine as it can be quite difficult to explain internet subtext. And there is a lot of subtext on the internet, all of which drastically changes based on what internet you are on, which “largely depends on algorithms designed to show us the content we are each most likely to engage with.”
All of these different internets have their own language, and their own rules of communication. Stacy Lee Kong explores online communication by looking at recent celebrity missteps and “highlight[ing] the role the platforms themselves play in shaping that communication.”
Noema: Finding Awe Amid Everyday Splendor
After a road trip to South Dakota this summer, I started considering awe. I experienced a lot of this ”lightning-in-a-bottle sensation,” as Henry Wisemayer describes it:. vast lakes, brilliant sunsets, open planes, each bleed into one another.
Dacher Keltner has spent most of his life researching the little-understood feeling of awe. It is thought that “by taking us out of ourselves and expanding our sense of time, it counteracts the self-focus and narcissism that is the root of so much modern disenchantment. To experience awe, to fully open ourselves up to it, helps us to live happier, healthier lives.”
National Geographic: The Dallas Zoo is being sabotaged. Here’s what we know.
Throughout the past month, the Dallas Zoo experienced three incidents of animals escaping their enclosures, being murdered, or being stolen. First, “Nova, a 25-pound clouded leopard who escaped from a suspicious opening in her fence. Then it was Pin, an endangered lappet-faced vulture found fatally and intentionally wounded in his enclosure. And finally, two emperor tamarin monkeys were stolen—and later recovered—despite heightened security measures.”
Nova was recovered on Zoo grounds, and the monkeys have since been found, Dallas is also not the only zoo that has had break-in and theft issues recently, as a zoo in Louisiana also had animals stolen this week. With all of the theft going around, zoos are frustrated and concerned about animal safety—and rightfully so!