We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.—Toni Morrison
—found in her 1993 Nobel Lecture
Links: June 14, 2020
- I don’t know about you, but I’ve been doing a lot of reading in recent weeks (months, and years). Obviously, reading (alone) isn’t enough. → What Is an Anti-Racist Reading List For? ※ What Is Optical Allyship? 3 Ways To Be Actively Anti-Racist
- Among so many other things contributing to America’s mass incarceration problem, the predatory system of cash bail could be the easiest one to fix. → How Cash Bail Works ※ We Can’t End Mass Incarceration Without Ending Money Bail ※ The Fight to End Cash Bail
- “Defund the police” is a slogan that demands, like many big ideas small enough to fit on a sign, some unpacking, not least because it is actually just the first step necessary for a much larger project. Dismissing the idea is easy, as is retreating to limited—painfully fruitless—ideas of incremental reforms. But with a little effort, the possibility of transformation becomes a vision that’s hard to unsee → Vox provides a solid overview: The “abolish the police” movement, explained by 7 scholars and activists. And the Cardozo Law Review goes deep: Are Police Obsolete? Breaking Cycles of Violence Through Abolition Democracy
- While I’m at it, abolishing prison, the malignant fraternal twin of militarized and misguided policing, isn’t as outlandish as too many think. → What Is Prison Abolition? ※ A former prosecutor’s case for prison abolition ※ Is Prison Necessary? Ruth Wilson Gilmore Might Change Your Mind
- This Friday is Juneteenth.
- Truly novel ways to promote social distancing are already becoming rare. But they’re out there. → Shoes for Social Distancing
- I understand nothing of how this works, but the results are mind-boggling. Just look at page 8. → EAR2FACE extrapolates, with already uncanny accuracy, images of peoples’ faces from pictures of their ears. Let that sink in for a minute. ※ Also impressive, with near-future implications: Real-time Face Video Swapping From A Single Portrait.
- Some artistic delights → Lin Yung Cheng’s conceptual photography ※ Karin Pfeiff Boschek’s pie art ※ Chris (Simpsons artist)’s strange, funny, surreal, mystifying illustrations ※ Calida Garcia Rawles’ paintings of people in water ※ Samantha French’s painting of people underwater
- Sometimes you just need a laugh. → 40 Memes That Perfectly Sum Up The Trainwreck That Is 2020 ※ Punhub
- Today in 1939, actress and singer Ethel Waters becomes the first African American to star in her own television show, The Ethel Waters Show. The show, a variety program that included a dramatic performance of the Broadway play Mamba’s Daughters, adapted as a vehicle for Waters by DuBose Heyward, author of the original novel, may in fact have been the first time an African American ever appeared on television. Born when her mother was in her mid-teens, raised in poverty, and married at thirteen to an abusive husband, Waters struck out on her own, working as a maid for less than \$5 a week, until she was discovered singing at a party on her 17th birthday. Also an acclaimed singer, Waters won an Emmy Award, was nominated for an Academy Award and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, among many honors. ※ ► Listen to Waters’ version of “Stormy Weather,” eventually listed in the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress. ※ ► Watch Waters’ “Am I Blue,” from the 1929 film On With the Show, the first film to be recorded in color (though only black and white copies survive). ※ See and learn about the historic Ethel Waters Residence, Waters’ residence in the mid 1920s, and home to an important literary salon during the Harlem Renaissance.
James Baldwin Debates William F. Buckley
► James Baldwin Debates William F. Buckley (1965). Title should read “defeats” Buckley. It’s not even close. ※ James Baldwin: “I Can’t Afford Despair”
I Will Make a Knife Into a Knife
A marvelous—and soothing—video whose title Google translates as “I will make a knife into a knife.” → ► Transformation of a Knife
Responses: June 14, 2020
Many, many thanks to everyone (I’ll spare you a long list of initials) who wrote in over the last week to support my abrupt change of content in recognition of current events. Those notes happily outnumbered the unsubscriptions.
- Reader T.: “The CIA has tips for resistance.”
- Reader B.: “I confess to finding myself caught by opposing impulses and arguments. On the one hand is the line you articulated well, pace Wiesel, that it is vital to speak out against injustice. On the other are voices saying that this is the time for marginalized voices, that for whites to speak risks centering discourse on their experience.” — I hear you. I’ve settled in on the mode of trying to amplify marginalized voices, and some others that seem most genuine and insightful to help with that, while being mostly quiet myself. But it’s challenging in any case. Just going dark, which was my first impulse, seems wrong.