TV, Politics, Race: What I’ve Been Reading, and Planning to Write

As usual, I’ve had the same 15 tabs open for 3 weeks, waiting…for what? For this blog post. I have trouble closing the links I’ve already read that seem so important I want to share them. Of course, you all have plenty to read already, so I think I’m just a digital hoarder.

I also have a nice long list on my phone of all the blog posts I want to write. I want to write about Jane the Virgin and Fresh Off the Boat and how amazing it is to see TV shows featuring immigrant families who don’t speak monolingually in their homes or on the shows: both shows feature multilingual families from Venezuela and Taiwan, respectively, where a grandmother always speaks in the home country’s language (Spanish and Mandarin) while their children and grandchildren respond in English, and everyone can understand each other. On Fresh Off the Boat, the middle generation–children of grandma and parents of grandkids–also switch into Mandarin when they don’t want people around them to understand. (For my rhet/compers out there, Cue: Canagarajah.) Large swaths of the hiphop musical melodrama Empire is also written in AAVE; I would love to see one of their scripts. How are they formatting and editing their dialogue?

Meanwhile, Fresh Off the Boat and Broad City are also showcasing the appropriation of black language by Asian-American kids and white women, respectively; recent episodes of both featured leads in t-shirts of rappers. Acutally, FOTB has its lead, Eddie, wearing a t-shirt with a rapper’s face almost constantly. There is so much richness on television for language scholars to talk about right now. And FOTB is explicitly decentering whiteness in a way I’ve never seen before – usually the white characters on the show sound like delusional crazy people – and Jane the Virgin treated migrants’ undocumented status in a way that was humane and a part of a storyline just like it’s a part of people’s lives.

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I also wanted to write a post about how I wish Spotify would stop spending all its engineers’ energy trying to predict what music I like, and instead do a 1000% better job saving, categorizing, and making accessible to me all the music I’ve already been listening to, so I can find my favorite albums and artist as easily as if this was my music library.

I have also been thinking about how much time I spend as a teacher in the classroom doing managerial work vs. actual teaching –things like giving and reviewing assignments, talking about how things will be graded, coordinating who is giving a presentation on what day, giving students instructions for in-class activities, and so forth. This question was spurned by my reading of Donna Strickland’s The Managerial Unconscious in the History of Composition Studies, which had me thinking, how much of the managerialism of the contemporary writing program seeps into the classroom? How much of teaching is actually managing?

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been reading…

Jeff Chang’s “From Basquiat to Jay-Z: How the Art World Came to Fully Embrace Hip-Hop,” in The Guardian

francine j. harris’s “Civilly Unseen” in the Blue Shift Journal

Julianne Hing’s “Fresh Off the Boat’s Rocky Relationship with Hip-Hop” on Colorlines

Michael S. Schmidt’s “F.B.I. Director Speaks Out on Race and Police Bias” in the New York Times

Isabel Shepherd’s “Examining the Lasting Effects of Wilmington’s 1898 Coup D’etat” on HQR News

“Security Researcher Christopher Soghoian on How to Use a Cellphone Without Being Spied On” on Democracy Now!

Kirby Wilson’s “Lack of Diversity Leads to Burden on Professors of Color” in The Chronicle

Richard Florida’s “A Painstaking New Study Reveals the Persistence of U.S. Racial Segregation” on The Atlantic’s Citylab

Ben Sisario’s “Industry Issues Intrude in ‘Blurred Lines’ Case” in the New York Times

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What I’ve been reading: Holiday Giggles Edition

Azealea Banks on Hot 97 ( must watch, and then listen to her great new album, Broke With Expensive Taste. I’ve also been bumpin Big K.R.I.T.’s Cadillactica.)

Amanda Chicago Lewis’s “Pam and Tommy: The Untold Story of the World’s Most Infamous Sex Tape,” in Rolling Stone.

The couple already had a reputation for carnal and pharmaceutical indulgence, but peeping on their love play offered an entirely new level of dirty, thrilling violation, as we leap-frogged PR flacks, centerfold photographers and even the paparazzi to land squarely in the most private of worlds.

The cover of a Pam and Tommy sex tape VHS, via RollingStone.com

The cover of a Pam and Tommy sex tape VHS, via RollingStone.com

Jia Tolentino’s “The Promise in Elena Ferrante” in Jezebel (and then–DUH–go read EVERYTHING by Ferrante herself.)

Anyway, women’s writing will be the business of inwardness as long as it’s still risky for women to walk around alone.

Emily Nussbaum’s “Great TV 2014: Not a List, Not in Order,” in The New Yorker–aka, my to-do list for the past week.

“Jane the Virgin” is thirty times better than ninety per cent of all network shows. Fiona Apple’s theme song to “The Affair” is way better than “The Affair.”

David Uberti’s “The Worst Journalism of 2014” in the Columbia Journalism Review.

Live television is exceedingly difficult to produce, of course, but [Don] Lemon’s gaffes this year offer a case study in how to choose words wisely — or not.

“New Evidence Sony Hack was ‘Inside Job,’ Not North Korea,” in the New York Post.

Errata Security’s Robert Graham also noted to Politico that the hacker underground shares plenty of code, calling the FBI’s evidence “nonsense.”

via NYPost.com

via NYPost.com

Michael Schulman’s “Why ‘Into The Woods’ Matters,” in The New Yorker.

When the musical opened on Broadway, in 1987, parents would occasionally yank their young children out of the theatre in shock during the second act, thinking, They killed Rapunzel?

Revolva’s “An Open Letter to Oprah, Whose ‘The Life You Want’ Tour Asked Me To Work For Free,” in Digital Music News.

Criticizing the Oprah Winfrey tour is scary, Oprah Winfrey!  I can already see the impending comments about how artists should be grateful to appear at your event (which, by the way, is certainly paying the going rate to the lighting people, the sound people, the caterers, the janitors, the people who erected the outdoor side stage, basically everyone except the local artists appearing on said stage).

Matt Agorist’s “The NYPD Is Essentially Refusing to Do Its Job and Yet New York Hasn’t Collapsed into Chaos,” on the Free Thought Project.

This sharp drop in the enforcement of certain offenses has not created the Mad Max scenario that so many people predict would happen if police loosen their grip.

And, just for serious,

Paul Grohndahl’s “Heroin Addiction’s Stranglehold on Adolescents” in the Albany Times Union.

“I have low self-esteem and I’ve got a lot of emotional issues,” she said. “I’ve struggled with my relationship with my father and my own addictive personality. I been depressed for a long time.”

and

Sam Mitrani’s “Stop Kidding Yourself: The Police Were Created to Control Working-Class and Poor People,” on the Labor and Working Class History Association blog.

There was a never a time when the big city police neutrally enforced “the law,” or came anywhere close to that ideal (for that matter, the law itself has never been neutral).

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What I’ve been reading…so I can finally close all these gotdamn tabs!

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Brett Samuels and Justin Mattingly’s “Chancellor’s Workgroup on Sexual Violence Prevention, Education and Advocacy delivers final report to Syverud,” in the Daily Orange.

The workgroup found that without the Advocacy Center, “there is no longer a single office designated to provide information about services, advocacy, education, and prevention, as well as physical space for victims and survivors to informally congregate and support each other.”

Karen Narevsky’s “Remember Me as a Revolutionary Communist,” in Jacobin.

Leslie was so gifted at identifying working-class issues that even though Leslie had a Buffalo accent, Leslie came and infiltrated with me.

Natalie T. Chang’s “Who WIll Survive in America?” in the Harvard Crimson.

Most of the time I’m glaring so hard at everyone who walks by me that I probably should be stopped by the police, but it’s only because I learned a long time ago that if I don’t, eventually some white boy in a baseball cap is gonna look me up and down and ask if I can love him long time.

But forty years ago my parents were yelled at, spat on, beat up. Violence is tricky like that.

Chris Mooney’s “The Science of Why Cops Shoot Young Black Men,” in Mother Jones.

And then suddenly, you have a horrible realization. When black faces and “bad” words are paired together, you feel yourself becoming faster in your categorizing—an indication that the two are more easily linked in your mind.

Irene Routte’s “What the Bodies Are Telling You,” on the Harvard Divinity School’s blog.

When systems, rituals, and rules dictate how our bodies can be or how much value our bodies hold, how do we not only envision but embody an affect of hope?

Tanzina Vega’s “Schools’ Discipline for Girls Differs by Race and Hue,” in the New York Times.

Black girls with the darkest skin tones were three times more likely to be suspended than black girls with the lightest skin.

Trish Kahle’s “Echoes of Mockingjay” on Red Wedge.

And if we step back for a moment, we see that even though Katniss Everdeen is the trilogy’s protagonist, Black rebellion is the driving force of revolution in Panem.

An anonymous reader’s “My Cousin was Shot Dead By Police in Albuquerque,” on Talking Points Memo Daily.

I’ll confess that I didn’t totally understand, either emotionally (duh: I grew up in white affluence) or frankly intellectually (they don’t just shoot kids, do they?).

But now I understand

Linda Chavers’s “An Elegy for Michael Brown” in Dame Magazine.

In other words, I am not just an English teacher, I’m among the keepers of the gates. And they need to see me here for the White boys.

“White Folks: Act Up Accountably,” on the SURJ Action Team blog.

Do:  Organize white people to participate in actions led by People of Color (POC).

Don’t:  Expect to lead those actions.

Sam Biddle’s “Leaked: The Nightmare E-mail Drama Behind Sony’s Steve Jobs Disaster” on Gawker.

You better shut it down

That is what you said

That sounded like a threat to me

Shame and Shamelessness: What I’ve Been Reading This Week

In National Journal, NPR’s Michel Martin brings race to the gendered discussion of “having it all” in her nuanced “What I’ve Left Unsaid.”

On her tumblr Rebgold, my day school classmate Rebecca’s beautiful images and words about the current crisis in Gaza, centering on the universal image of “Mayim-Agua-Water-Wasser.”

In the New York Times Magazine, Nicola Twilley’s fun and thoughtful “What do Chinese Dumplings Have to Do with Global Warming?”

On Open Democracy, an interview with philosopher Judith Butler about her controversial, anti-violence position on Israel-Palestine.

Shuhada Street, via theAtlantic.com (Nayef Hashlamoun/Reuters)

Shuhada Street, via theAtlantic.com (Nayef Hashlamoun/Reuters)

On BuzzFeed, Anne Helen Petersen’s “Down and Dirty History of TMZ” and its founder Harvey Levin.

In the Atlantic, Megan Garber talks the capitalistic genius of Kimmy K in “Kapitalism and Kim Kardashian”–and I’ll have more to say on this one soon, I think.

On HNN, U of M history professor Juan Cole’s post on the geopolitical history of Israel-Palestine, in response to a skirmish on theAtlantic.com between Andrew Sullivan and Jeffrey Goldberg spurred by an earlier blog post by Cole.

Also in The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky interviews @FeministaJones on her anti-harrassment campaign #YouOkSis, which centers black women’s experiences in this conversation.

Finally, in HaAretz, Amira Hass’s “Israel’s Moral Defeat Will Haunt Us for Many Years,” and in the Atlantic, Ayelet Waldman’s “The Shame of Shuhada Street.”

“All of us were promised a speaking part”: weeks and weeks of what I’ve been reading

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In Alternet, Soraya Chemaly’s “The Words Every Woman Should Know,” on gendered speech privilege and disparity.

In Vox, Jeff Chang speaks with Kelsey McKinney on the Beats-Apple deal

Continue reading

“Hip-Hop’s New New York”: What I’ve been reading this week

photo by Jessica Lehrman, via NYTimes.com – see below

In the New York Times, Jessica Lehrman’s photo essay “Hip-Hop’s New New York” 

In the Zinn Education Project blog, Sudie Hoffman’s “Rethinking Cinco de Mayo”

In io9, Annalee Newitz’s “How Iran Became One of the World’s Most Futuristic Countries,” on reproductive health freedom and education in Iran

In Buzzfeed, Anne Helen Peterson’s “Zac Efron Bros Down to Grow Up”

In Grantland, Molly Lambert’s “The Visor and the Beret”

In Elle, “Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” – Tavi Gevinson interviews Miley Cyrus

In The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “This Town Needs a Better Class of Racist

And some listening for ya: tracks from Music Band’s “Can I Live”

“Not exactly hollow, but a little haunted”: what I’m reading this week

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In Noisey, Questlove’s “When The People Cheer: How Hip-Hop Failed Black America”

In The Nation, Alexandra Hootnick’s “Teachers Are Losing Their Jobs, But Teach for America is Expanding. What’s Wrong With That?”

OnBuzzfeed, Syreeta McFadden’s “Teaching the Camera to See My Skin” and Jarett Wieselman’s “How Judy Grier Became Americas Most In-Demand Best Friend”

In Citypages, Jessica Lussenhop’s “Inside the multi-million dollar essay-scoring business

In The Jerusalem Post, Jacob Magid’s “Occupation – That word makes me uncomfortable, too”

On Sounding Out!, Regina Bradley’s “‘Take Em to Chuch’: OutKast and the Sounds of the Southern Black Church”

In The Chronicle, John Fraire’s “Why Your College Should Dump the SAT”

…and everything about Donald Sterling