Happy Friday, all! First, a hiring note: We are looking for a publicist (in New York, the Bay Area, or Portland) to support Yuka Igarashi’s editorial relaunch of Soft Skull Press (Chelsea Martin, Eileen Myles, and Lynne Tillman among the authors!), as well as provide some heavy-hitting PR for Counterpoint ’s essential nonfiction leads (including the incomparable Wendell Berry , and the debut from Jared Yates Sexton ). You can find more info here . (And please help us spread the word!)
We kicked off our week with this important essay by Teow Lim Goh about the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Trump administration’s immigration ban, the function of borders, and the meaning of citizenship:
I also know that my US citizenship is a kind of bulwark. It is not a guarantee of protection—just ask the Chinese American citizens stranded on Angel Island without reentry certificates or the Japanese American citizens interned during World War II. But if I were not a citizen, I would be less invested, more hesitant to speak up about politics . . .
To take up citizenship in another country is to naturalize: to be made natural, normal. In this framework, to immigrate is to move away from our origins, break with our lineage, and become unnatural and alien, which is aberrant to many who subscribe to the idea of a patrilineal homeland.
For years, my husband pasted images of little green men on the folders in which he kept his immigration paperwork. Even green card holders are not yet normalized: The official term for them is Permanent Resident Alien, each with their own Alien Registration Number. Debates on immigration and citizenship are ultimately debates on race. Who can we consider kin? Who can we make normal?
Natalie Degraffinried talked to Damon Young of VerySmartBrothas about writing, community, Young’s book, and pancake date nights — an interview I’ve been a little too excited about for several weeks now — and it was so. worth. waiting for.
“I am here, in this dance class, because of him”: Claire Handscombe on learning to dance in order to better relate to the daughter of the man she loves.
You do not want to miss Cameron Glover’s lovely essay on Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God :
. . . she helped me to uncover the language I had been missing to describe what I wanted for myself; in writing “there are years that ask questions and years that answer,” Hurston gave me permission to embrace this uncertainty and to carve out my own definitions at a time when I didn’t know the answers were already inside of me. It’s more than the legacy of a once-forgotten writer who redefined what it means to be Black and a woman at a time when neither were celebrated. (Was there ever a time when Black women were celebrated?) Their Eyes Were Watching God gave me context to begin exploring social justice, Black feminism, and survival in times of resistance.
For our DEBUT column, Catapult’s own Julie Buntin wrote this beautiful piece on fiction versus reality, her debut novel Marlena , and Lorrie Moore’s writing advice: “Write something you’d never show your mother or father.”
Today we published a new short story by Angela Woodward, “The Agoraphobe’s House,” in which many neighborhood walks past the home of poet William Ellery Leonard inspire the narrator to learn about and imagine Leonard’s life.
“The Art of Catching a Breath”: Liz Lazzara wrote about Election 2016 and its impact on her mental health and Buddhist practice.
Our AT WORK series continued with Bryan Washington’s account of working at a childcare center in Texas, watching mostly white kids and interacting with their parents—who frequently mixed him up with “the other black guy on staff”:
We rarely saw parents of color, let alone colorful parents. But when we did, the difference in demeanor was striking. They remembered your name. They came back on time. Their children didn’t break shit. And they always, always apologized.
I wondered why that was. I brought it up to Joy. She looked at me for a long time, and said that’s what the neighborhood did to you. These parents lived in Texas. They knew exactly where they were. The same way that they knew they’d gained entrance to this world, they were aware that the slightest miscalculation could evict them from it.
And besides, Joy said to me, you should know. You live here too.
Finally, I always love Liz Rosema’s “Butch Stories” comics, and I was so happy we got to publish a new one today: “It is powerful to be kind. It is worthwhile to be good.”
Thank you, as always, for reading with us. We’ll see you next week.