The internet was both a reminder of all the concurrent crises, as well as joy, hope, and the silly things of the world. Things that happened: Ta-Nehisi Coates speaks out, a mass displacement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghans are being expelled from Pakistan, Keith Lee vs. Atlanta, Cup Noodles in the microwave, Palestinian bombing continues, Winnie Harlow as Katt Williams, Megan Thee Stallion, Jamila Woods, and Flavor Flav sings the national anthem.
Writer and Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates spoke to Democracy Now! on Thursday about the time he spent in Palestine, and “learning about the connection between the struggle of African Americans and Palestinians.” Throughout the segment reiterated that he has to “measure my fear [of speaking out] against the misery that I saw,” saying “there’s no way for me, as an African American, to come back and stand before you, to witness segregation and not say anything about it.”
This interview took place a day after Coates was in conversation with writer and legal scholar Michelle Alexander, and Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi at The Palestine Festival of Literature in New York, about the need for solidarity with Palestine and a cease fire, something Amy Goodman brings about in the segment.
As the violence against Palestine persists, other human rights atrocities across the world are also receiving increasing coverage—something they should have had all along. One of those places is the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where nearly 7 million people have been displaced, and estimated 25 million people are facing extreme hunger.
Published in May, this article overviews the reasons for the increasing violence, including problems associated with the colonial redrawing of Rwanda’s borders that excluded areas of the current DRC “inhabited by Kinyarwanda-speaking (Hutu and Tutsi) populations that share a common language with Rwanda” and the DRC’s partnership with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda that “has origins in the…militia that carried out the genocide against Tutsi in 1994… and remains a vehicle of genocide ideology.” I’ve been reading up on this crisis and there is a lot more to learn.
On Wednesday, the deadline came for nearly 1.7 million undocumented Afghans in Pakistan to leave the country. Some of the Afghan nationals being forced to leave have been there for four decades. “The exodus began with the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and continued during the post-9/11 US invasion and the second takeover of the government in Kabul by the Taliban in 2021.”
Holding centers have sprung up across the country, and “most of the refugees and migrants have converged at the Torkham border crossing in northwestern Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, awaiting exit formalities being conducted by officials belonging to Pakistan’s National Database Registration Authority.” However, there is a massive queue, leaving many without shelter or facilities while they wait. “Human Rights Watch said the Pakistani government is ‘using threats, abuse and detention to coerce’ Afghan asylum seekers without legal status to return to Afghanistan.”
Keith Lee set ablaze the Black Twitter (X) after he took a much anticipated trip to Atlanta and reviewed its food scene. The former MMA fighter turned TikTok food influencer is known for “the no-frills style of his videos, in which he rates every item he gets from a restaurant on a 10-point scale, while also commenting on the customer service.” Generally, he reviews restaurants owned by Black or people of color, and has the popularity to bring a business back from the brink.
Atlanta is known for its Black food scene and nightlife, and for many familiar with the city it was known that some shenanigans might go down. And go down they did. Throughout the trip “Lee noted that he experienced customer service issues, incredibly long wait times, confusing rules about ordering, and wrong or misleading information about hours of service at multiple popular restaurants.”
Lee has received some criticism for trying to bring down Black businesses, but, “It’s no secret to many Black people that, within certain “chocolate cities,” but especially Atlanta, Black patrons have had to deal with tedious dress codes, distracting DJs, impossible rules, and—as Cardi B put it—an attitude of restaurants behaving as if they’re doing customers a favor.”
Last week Nissin, the OG producer of Cup Noodles, “announced that it was updating the design of its iconic Cup Noodles in early 2024,” making it microwavable. Made of polystyrene, the current design is not microwavable and—according to the label—“research shows substances within the polystyrene can leach into your food. The main cause for concern is styrene, which may impact the nervous system and is a possible carcinogen.” This news had the timelines in CHAOS, with Cup Noodle fans questioning their whole lives and childhoods.
U.N. official Craig Mokhiber resigned this week, releasing his four page resignation letter condemning the U.N.’s response to the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people. The former director of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights for the New York Office, Mokhiber condemned the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe, “[who] are wholly complicit in the horrific assault,” describing the war as a “wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people, rooted in an ethno-nationalist colonial settler ideology, in continuation of decades of their systematic persecution and purging, based entirely upon their status as Arabs.” Mokhiber spoke with Democracy Now! on Wednesday, expanding upon his resignation letter.
Halloween was last Tuesday and Winnie Harlow absolutely won the holiday dressing as Katt Williams from the Pimp Chronicles Pt. 1, dancing to a remix of “A pimp Named Slickback.” I cannot get enough of this video—I’ve been laughing all week!
Cobra, Megan Thee Stallion’s first solo single of 2023 was released on Friday, and is a vulnerable re-telling of her struggles over the past few years. Throughout the song, Megan chronicles grief, depression, and anxiety, using drinking to mask her pain, and potentially being cheated on by her ex-boyfriend rapper Pardi.
In one line, Megan raps, “Pulled up, caught him cheating. Getting his dick sucked in the same spot I’m sleeping. Lord, give me a break, I don’t know how much more of this shit I can take.” While Megan doesn’t explicitly state she is talking about Pardi, “If we do the math correctly, the ‘Anxiety’ rapper was dating fellow rapper and songwriter Pardison Fontaine during the time she was going through all the emotional trauma stemming from the Tory Lanez shooting case and was gearing up to go to trial soon,” writes Shanelle Genai for the Root.
Given LL this, Pardi is the most logical person Megan is talking about. This, paired with the craftspersonship of the song and video, had Twitter ready to FIGHT Pardi. I hope Megan is surrounded by her people and has the support she needs.
Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on grief, love, faith, and intimacy. Partially, this is because I just finished an essay on an artist whose practice engages with these issues and partially because I’m in a transitional phase of my life, trying to figure out what I want and what I value.
Most people my age are either settling into serious relationships, or aggressively single (I fall into the latter category). Woods is a little older than me, but her album perfectly encapsulates this phase of my life. In her review of the album for Pitchfork, Tarisai Ngangura encapsulates it in the question, “How much would you let love change you?” Woods acknowledges as Ngangura writes, “Life will do as life does; all we can do is continue on until we arrive where we need to be.”
Flavor Flav sang the national anthem at a Milwaukee Bucks game this week and it sounded exactly like you would expect. Although Flav’s acapella rendition is reminiscent of Fergi’s infamous performance of the Star Spangled Banner at the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, he performs his heart out with extreme sincerity. I am not sure how he got the gig, but he did his best!