So much happened on the internet this week! Highlights: Trump’s arrest, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, Clarence Thomas, racism in women’s basketball, Mo’Nique, Chris Brown, beach dogs, trucking, local journalism, and Shrek 5.
Trump was finally arrested and is facing 34 felony counts! In this crossover episode of Strict Scrutiny and Pod Save America, “Jon, Jon, and Tommy get together with Leah and Kate to talk about Donald Trump’s arraignment in Manhattan criminal court, and the legal jeopardy he faces now.” This episode is great for legal nerds, and both podcasts will be great resources for the upcoming trial.
Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, both Black Tennessee lawmakers, were expelled “from their seats for peacefully protesting gun violence on the House floor last week” by the state’s republican supermajority. The move “break[s] with decorum as thousands rallied outside the Capitol to demand gun control, days after the Covenant elementary school shooting in Nashville that killed six, including three 9-year-olds.” Both men “were part of the Tennessee Three, but the vote to expel their white colleague, Gloria Johnson, who joined them in solidarity, narrowly failed.”
Nothing in this story about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas “accepted luxury trips virtually every year from the Dallas businessman [Harlan Crow] without disclosing them” is surprising—but the story is extremely necessary. Thomas has been accepting these trips for over two decades, and just one of them could cost upwards of $500,000. Not disclosing the trips and flights on Crow’s private plane “appears to violate a law passed after Watergate that requires justices, judges, members of Congress and federal officials to disclose most gifts, two ethics law experts said.” The Supreme Court is a failed institution.
I am a big women’s basketball fan. Specifically, I am a fan of Dawn Staley and the South Carolina Gamecocks and the SEC (SouthEastern Conference). This video does a good job of explaining the overarching racism of the final game of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, and the fallout (re: Jill Biden). However, it does not provide a lot of context about the season leading up to the tournament, how the final four game between Iowa and South Carolina acutely displayed the racism in the sport, all of the racism South Carolina and Staley have faced and has faced for years, Kim Mulkey’s instrumentalization of Black women, Hailey Van Lith, women’s basketball media in general, and much much more. At the end of the day, a lot of people are working very hard to protect white women.
I have yet to watch My Name is Mo’Nique, Mo’Nique’s new Netflix comedy special, but Ashely Ray makes me want to watch it so badly! Filmed at the Rialto Center for the Arts in Atlanta, the special comes after the comedian was “demanded higher pay [from Netflix] as one of the most famous Black female comedians in the world, she was called ‘Donkey of the Day’ by radio DJs.
She was told she burned too many bridges to ever have the fame she once knew.” Now, with fair compensation, Mo’Nique shows us what Black women can create without judgment or limitations.” With a central thesis of “If it ain’t right, fight” the special is “beautiful, personal, and deeply funny piece that summarizes the amazing life she’s had” and illustrates that “Mo’Nique was never the issue — it was the expectations forced on Black women. They expected her to be grateful for scraps and fall in line no matter how they insulted her with low pay.”
Every few months it feels like Chris Brown is featured on a new single, or is getting a new award. Most recently, Brown was in the news for being featured on Chloë Bailey’s debut solo album, In Pieces, something that many questioned or outright condemned given Brown’s history as an abuser. While Brown’s 2009 assault of Rihanna when he was 19 is his most well known, “he has gone on to amass accusation after accusation of endangering the safety and wellbeing of others.”
It has not been one incident, “the implication that Brown has made a single mistake is wrong. Yet, he’s been repeatedly rewarded with adulation and wealth in the face of these reported transgressions.” Brown has accrued a slew of accolades since then, including a Grammy for Best R&B Album in 2012, and a sold out tour and ended in March. People, celebrities, continue to work with and defend Brown, something that “represents a larger threat to those trying to combat interpersonal and misogynistic violence.”
Mankaprr Conteh grapples with all of that here, asking “after fourteen years of Chris Brown being connected to gross accusations of violence — abuses of people and power — on the global stage” with little to no accountability, “what could interrupt the pattern? How can the singer, his detractors, and his supporters — at every level — serve to push pop culture into healthier territory? And how did it get to its current place, with Brown as both a musical icon and an emblem of persistent social problems?”
I never grew up seeing a lot of dogs at the beach. Growing up, and now, the beaches I most often frequented were part of State or National Parks in Michigan with protected land. Dogs were not allowed on most beaches or trails through the sand dunes. It was common to see roped off areas with signs explaining that shorebirds nested in the area. For the most part, people respect the birds, and do not bring their dogs—if not, a ranger or a polite midwestern stranger is there to enforce the rules.
While it is a joy to watch my dog play in the waves on a designated dog beach I understand that she has a great impact on my favorite beaches, all of which are home to shorebirds. All dogs are capable of killing, even the sweetest domestic pets, and they “have been known to maul seal pups, outcompete eagles for dead fish, and dig up turtle nests. They save their worst harms for shorebirds, killing chicks, crushing eggs, and forcing migrating birds to burn more calories than they can spare.” When dogs destroy local ecosystems, however, it is not their fault, they are doing what they were bred to do, and the responsibility falls on the owner—many of whom value their dog’s happiness over the ecosystem.
I didn’t learn how to drive until 2020, when I was in my mid-twenties. Since then, however, I’ve made up for lost time taking many road trips throughout the eastern half of the country. Since gaining my new found freedom, I’ve considered getting a CDL, commercial drivers license, many times and hitting the road as a trucker. I often talk to one of my friends about this, who shares the same inclination, but both of us hesitate due to the reputation of sexism in the industry.
Jess, a long haul truck driver, left an abusive relationship and now travels the country and her rig, The Black Widow. Throughout the story, Meg Bernhard tells us Jess’s story, introduces us to other members of “REAL Women in Trucking, an advocacy group focused on labor rights, particularly for women drivers,” and provides insight into what it’s like to be a female trucker.
Over the past decade, Atlanta has become a haven for independent media outlets. In a landscape where “more than a quarter of the country’s newspapers have closed in the last two decades—over the last few years, it’s averaged about two each week,” but “in just the past five years, Atlanta Civic Circle, Capital B, Canopy Atlanta, the Atlanta Community Press Collective, and local bureaus of Axios and the national investigative news site ProPublica have all set up shop here.” In a time where it can be increasingly difficult to get local news, it is becoming increasingly important as “the lack of a community watchdog can open the door to more corruption in government and business, lower levels of voter participation, even (because of less financial scrutiny) higher taxes.” These independent papers, many of which are heavily community focused, are also “generating new revenue streams; some sell merch, and some, registered as nonprofits, sustain themselves through grant funding.” I hope communities of every size across can have sustainable local journalism.
One of my former roommates and I are MASSIVE Shrek fans. But we might be bigger fans of Shrek memes and the film’s cultural impact than the movie itself. Chris Meledandri is a creative partner at DreamWorks, who is looking to reboot the Shrek franchise, and with the original voices! Though the reboot is still in the early stages, “no deals are in place” but “negotiations with the actors are going well,” following the success of the recent Puss in Boots film, this could be a great move for the studio. I hope it happens!