There was so much happening and so much to read this week. Highlights: Harry Belafonte, constitutional law 101, Jerry Springer, Tucker Carlson, Don Lemon, Bluesky, the quest for longevity, Animal Crossing IRL, and women rappers.
Legendary singer, actor, and activist Harry Belafonte passed away this week at the age of 96. In 2013 Jeff Sharlet profiled Belafonte and this piece is filled with anecdotes about his amazing life–like the first time he met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or the time he and Sidney Poitier hand-delivered $50,000 to civil rights activists in Mississippi. This profile is riveting and magical.
In November 2016, just prior to the presidential election, Belafonte wrote this perceptive op-ed on all that we had to lose should Trump win, observing that “what old men know, too, is that all that is gained can be lost.” Belafonte frames his opinion around Langston Hughes’s “Let America Be America Again,” both of whom understand “that America is primarily a dream, a hope, an aspiration, that may never be fully attainable, but that spurs us to be better, to be larger.” Although Trump did win, and we have already lost a lot and stand to lose more, Belafonte urges us to continue dreaming in this poignant essay.
So many rights are in danger in so many places! It is hard, and exhausting, and scary even attempting to keep track of everything. Movement lawyer Olayemi Olurin goes over all of the states that have totally banned or restricted abortion since Roe v. Wade was overturned, the other rights the GOP has in their sights (there are a lot), and how everything is connected in this video on constitutional law.
TV personality Jerry Springer passed away on Thursday. He was 70. Springer revolutionized TV—for better and worse—in 1991 with the debut of his show, the spectacular Jerry Springer Show in which every episode “somebody cheated, somebody didn’t know and we’re all about to find out.” Looking back on the occasional after school episode I watched growing up, I can’t believe some (many) of the things on the series—which were engineered for peak dramatic effect—but the impact of the show, and Springer, is undeniable.
Tucker Carlson, one of Fox News’s most popular prime-time stars, was ousted from the network. The termination “comes less than a week after Fox settled an epic defamation lawsuit by an election technology company for more than $787 million. Dominion Voting Systems sued over segments promoting bogus claims that election fraud cheated then-President Donald Trump of victory in 2020.” Carlson was featured in that case, and additionally is being sued by a former producer for “sexism and harassment, alleging that his show’s workplace was replete with examples of misogyny.”
Longtime CNN star Don Lemon was also fired this week. Lemon, who worked at the network for 17 years, was once a primetime anchor, but has co-hosted CNN’s morning show since November. Internally, Lemon “began to lose support after he made remarks in February about women and aging that were widely perceived to be sexist,” and has also faced concerns over journalistic integrity. Increasingly, Lemon got into political disputes, most recently in an “on-air exchange with Vivek Ramaswamy, a Republican presidential candidate. The segment deteriorated as the men fiercely debated questions of Black history and the Second Amendment,” making anti-Black statements, as his white female co-hosts did nothing.
Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has now founded Bluesky, a “Twitter clone.” Similar to Twitter’s early days, the app’s “fun, loose culture is emerging as its users rebuild their social graphs from scratch… Jokes fly freely, nudes sometimes cross the ‘What’s hot’ trending tab, and nothing is too serious. Without feeling like the world is watching, and without the pressure to perform in the ‘world’s town square,’ people are acting like themselves.” Interestingly, as Bluesky could potentially overtake Twitter, it was incubated there before Elon Musk bought the app discontinuing the partnership, “including future financial support and the promise to use the new technology.” I’m very excited for this app, but I also can’t help but to think about Jason Parham’s A People’s History of Black Twitter.
It is becoming increasingly common for people to live to, and even surpass, the age of 100. Often, longevity is thought of as how long someone can live, but the kind of life they are living isn’t always taken into account in the quest for a long life. Increasingly, researchers looking into “healthspan—years lived in good health.” While this research isn’t seen is as sexy as longevity research, “figuring out ways for people to live healthier lives could have a much greater impact than extending lifespan by a few years.” Instead of focusing on those that live to the upper limits of the human lifespan, “we should actually be looking at when and why younger people start the decline into ill health.”
I’m not a video game person, but I have A LOT of friends that played Animal Crossing nonstop during the pandemic. My old roommate used to play, and would let me walk around every now and then. Once lockdowns began to ease, as for many people, the amount of time my friends spent paying the Nintendo Switch game lessened, and I don’t think anyone I know plays consistently anymore.
London based filmmaker Mayuren Naidoo, is on a mission “around the world to chronicle all 43 artworks in fox-y art dealer Jolly Redd’s inventory” in his TikTok series “animal crossing art irl.” Spanning 9 countries and 26 museums “Naidoo has seen 36 so far.” More art history like this please.
I have been loving this thread all week! Last Thursday Carl Chery tweeted “Women are out-rapping and out-swagging male rappers right now and I don’t think it’s up for debate.” He is absolutely correct in his assertion and the quote tweets are filled with so many amazing clips of women rapping! I knew some of the artists, but also found a lot of new talent to listen to!