This week I must have read thirty different moving pieces about Trayvon Martin's murder and what it means about racism and power in this country. You've probably read most of them already. But, if you missed it, I recommend Roxanne Gay's essay in The Rumpus: "A Place Where We Are Everything." Debra Dickerson picks out a very moving detail from the 911 tapes — this is short, but it's so packed with compassion that you'll probably need tissues. I also recommend the fascinating historical perspective present in Jamilah King's Colorlines interview with OSU professor Koritha Mitchell, who studies African-American plays and performances about families and communities grappling with the impact of lynching.
Who is immune to that message? None of us are. The only way that we can become immune to it — or at least resist it — is through community conversation; telling the truth to ourselves and each other about what is really constituting what is making our realities and our situation.
In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Briallen Hopper writes about protest fictions: Mike Daisey, Jason Russell, and Harriet Beecher Stowe(!): "It's been a rough week for the well-intentioned."
Irin Carmon at Salon writes about Republican opposition to the Violence Against Women Act. (The bitter jokes, they write themselves.) She particularly notes the barrier Republicans are throwing up to a provision involving violence against Native American women married to non-Native men. In that regard, this Colorlines interview of Charon Asetoyer by Akiba Solomon, "Why Native American Women Are Battling for Plan B," is relevant and heartbreaking.
Despairing? Don't give up. Have a laugh from Pemy Levy's round-up of women's Facebook posts asking male politicians for advice on our ladybits, since they're so expert at regulating them.
Are you still despairing? Here's a piece by Lisa Miller for New York Magazine about benzodiazepine use in an anxious age: "Listening to Xanax."
At Alternet, Sara Robinson argues that 40-hour work weeks are better for productivity and profits as well as for the personal lives and health of workers. Duh, right? But it's one of those little tidbits of wisdom from the early 20th century that we apparently need to learn all over again. There are a lot of those going around these days....
I bet this took more than 40 hours. From open source developer Jessamyn Smith at Geek Feminism Blog: At work, the IRC channel contained a bot programmed to insert "That's what SHE said" jokes into conversation. "I asked a number of times to have that bot function turned off, but got the usual combination of being ignored, being told it's funny, and being told I should lighten up." So what did she do? She made a bot that automatically responded with a quote from a notable woman every time the sexist joke got made. WIN. Here's how she did it.
In a week that saw more revelations about police surveillance of activists and advocates, Azmat Khan's piece for Frontline about new regulations that allow the government to retain data on US citizens who are not suspected of terrorist activity is a quick way to familiarize yourself with the very latest in dystopian realities. Whee!
Sarah Kliff at the Washington Post writes about how the health care reform law has begun to change the business model of American medicine. "These reforms, if successful, will move the country's health system away from one that pays for volume and toward one that pays for value." I am shocked, simply shocked to learn that doctors are (at least initially) profoundly unenthusiastic about the changes.
Boing Boing's Maggie Koerth-Baker has a new book coming out about climate change, peak oil, and energy needs. It was excerpted this week in Scientific American. She's one of the few writers I've ever encountered who can cover these issues without making you want to throw yourself off a bridge in despair. Go, read, buy her book!
Knock-out post from DNLee at Scientific American on being a black female scientist — and being herself. "Did you really think I came to follow in your footsteps?"
It was another fine week for women to have thoughts about the continuing relevance — or not — of certain Very Important Male Authors. I'm sure it is a complete coincidence that the NYRB chose this particular moment in time to allow Francine Prose to show what it looks like when you actually have something thoughtful to say about the relation of Edith Wharton's life to her work. And this is what it looks like when you discover, along with Michelle Dean at the Rumpus, that you don't have to read all the Very Important Male Authors; you don't have to "stay in the living room where everyone can see me, dutifully reading DeLillo because That's What's Good." (True confessions: I've never read DeLillo. And I laughed out loud at Dean's consternation that someone she considered a friend had never heard of Dorothy Parker.) Finally, this, from The Rejectionist, is what it looks like when you have something fierce and compelling to say about where Very Important Male Authors fall on the scale of things to be enraged about:
I can be angry about so many things at once, I can be angry about the big things and the little ones, the massive injustice of Trayvon Martin and the gnat that is Jonathan Franzen's opinions, I can be angry about the abortion ban that just passed in Mississippi and the books that are being banned in Arizona, and I am not in any way saying that these things are the same things, that they are weighted equally, but we have to live with all of them, and here's the thing. Nobody, but nobody, gets to tell me what to be angry about.
Apparently a new movie came out this weekend? I don't know; I live under a rock. But many people who don't live under rocks have strong opinions about this movie. Via @writingasjoe, Jaclyn Friedman tells us about "Four Things The Hunger Games Can Teach Us About the War on Women." Laurie Penny (whom, for the purposes of this list, we should probably start referring to as "the ubiquitous Laurie Penny"), writing in Salon, agrees. Me, I am giving myself a pass from this particular cultural phenomenon — I don't do so well with blood and gore — but you should all enthusiastically enjoy it on my behalf, okay?
Print and save for all the middle-schoolers and middle-schoolers-to-be in your life. "On Taking Yourself Seriously," by Sadie Doyle at Rookie.
Lovely essay by Arika Okrent in Lapham's Quarterly about gesture and language. "Gestures are thoughts, ideas, speech acts made tangible in the air."
At Guernica, Eleanor Stanford writes about moving her family to Brazil, mothering, working, and looking at a landscape of colonialism, crime, poverty, wealth — and fruit.
Last — but not least! — is pixie party alumna Rachel Hartman, who took a call from her sixth-grade teacher on the way home from promoting her book, due out from Random House in July. Yay, Rachel! [Kermit arms]