Hi, hi, hello. I was bemoaning the absence of a good link roundup in my life since a certain website closed, and now—a mere ten months later!—I thought I’d cease cursing the darkness and light a candle; i.e., throw together my own humble roundup (probably just once or twice a week to start, but we shall see). I will aim for midweek, because I don’t know, that seems easier than the beginning of the week when I have barely read anything yet. If you’ve read or written anything you’d especially love for me to include in my next roundup, please feel free to sing its praises to me via email ! (You can also see what our staff are reading, and what we published last week.)
Now, first up: Ijeoma Oluo’s incredible profile of Rachel Dolezal for The Stranger is the last and perhaps only thing you should ever read about Rachel Dolezal:
For a white woman who had grown up with only a few magazines of stylized images of blackness to imagine herself into a real-life black identity without any lived black experience, to turn herself into a black history professor without a history degree, to place herself at the forefront of local black society that she had adopted less than a decade earlier, all while seeming to claim to do it better and more authentically than any black person who would dare challenge her—well, it's the ultimate "you can be anything" success story of white America. Another branch of manifest destiny. No wonder America couldn't get enough of the Dolezal story.
Perhaps it really was that simple. I couldn't escape Rachel Dolezal because I can't escape white supremacy. And it is white supremacy that told an unhappy and outcast white woman that black identity was hers for the taking. It is white supremacy that told her that any black people who questioned her were obviously uneducated and unmotivated to rise to her level of wokeness. It is white supremacy that then elevated this display of privilege into the dominating conversation on black female identity in America. It is white supremacy that decided that it was worth a book deal, national news coverage, and yes—even this interview.
Kathrine Switzer , attacked for running in the Boston Marathon in 1976, ran it again this week at the age of seventy.
“It’s 2017. Can the Times hire a black woman opinion columnist already?”
Always read Kat Chow: On anti-Blackness and the model minority myth.
I loved “A Father’s Final Odyssey” ( The New Yorker ) so very much. I managed to hold it together until the Cavafy poem, and then it got VERY DUSTY IN MY LIVING ROOM.
Elon Green ’s on talking with and writing about ISIS sex slaves is bleak, fascinating, and has stuck with me in part because of the great insights into interviewing/reporting interview with Rukmini Callimachi :
[RC:] My process with all these women is to show up at the refugee camp after having called ahead and asked for an appointment. I’d start the interview in the tent with sometimes 10, 20 people sitting around, having tea. Then I would explain to the family what I’m about to do, without going into detail. I say, Look, I’m here to document the abuse that women face, and I think this is an important story. I don’t think people in America and the rest of the world are fully apprised of what’s happened. Then I thank them for their hospitality, and ask if it would be possible to be alone with the girl because I, as a woman, would like to ask her some personal questions. And at that point it’s just me, my translator, and the girl.
It was important for me that both the family and the victim were on board with the interview. The girl lives with her family, and if she speaks without their consent and they find out, it could cause friction, and I wanted my interviews to be carbon-neutral, meaning I did not want my presence to cause any further strain for her. At the same time, I didn’t want families making decisions for the girls. So once I was alone with her, I repeated to her that this was her choice . And I made clear she could say no, and that I would not be offended. Several women did say no once they were alone with me, and at that point you have to just walk away.
“I belong here, I told the trail. It rewarded me in lasting ways. The weight I carried as a black woman paled in comparison with the joy I felt daily among my peers in that wilderness. They shaped my heart into what it will be for the rest of my life.” The very best thing I have read this month is
this stunning piece by Rahawa Haile on thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.
I’m not going to mince words with you; this article is about penguin poop :
Natural selection has made the species resilient in the face of normal environmental variations but cannot protect the birds from so-called black-swan events. Lacking sacred texts or oral histories, later generations of penguins were at least spared the harrowing ancestral memory of the earlier disasters. But there is a flip side to the anthropomorphization of penguins; we may in fact be more like them than we care to admit. Toddling through our lives nicely dressed, we are quick to forget the past, and blithely unaware that tomorrow the sky may fall.
I confess I have not finished reading this yet (I am about halfway done), but what I have read is brilliant and satisfying; for lo, all my Drop Everything and Read Kathryn Schulz ’ s Latest alarms have been tripped.
“Will the president of the United States of America demonstrate that he contributes his fair share just like undocumented immigrants like me ?”
yes, I think I shall
Last but far from least, our own Julie Buntin’s novel Marlena was featured in the Times Book Review . Pick up a copy if you haven’t already, and find out why the Times calls it “a generous, sensitive novel of true feeling”!